It can be demoralizing to choose education as your career. Although most people think that education is important, it is no secret that a teacher’s job is long, difficult, and underpaid. Even worse, there are those who believe that teacher’s are ineffective or lazy because they “have” summer vacation time to relax and slack off. Nothing could be further from the truth. As idealistic young teachers who still believe in our power to change the world and positively affect our student’s lives, it is sometimes difficult to persevere when faced with low wages, little control over our curriculum, long hours, diverse and often overpopulated classrooms, and a whole ton of grading, lesson planning, and self-edification. That’s why it’s important to advocate for ourselves. After reading “How Do You Know if You’re a Teacher Leader?” and “How to Become a Teacher Advocate” i have a few takeaways about how to “stir the pot”, raise awareness and get people really thinking about education and the role that teacher’s play.
One point that really stayed with me was how advocacy is important not just for the profession and for your classroom or school, but for yourself. Making your voice heard, giving yourself a platform, and knowing that your opinion and knowledge as an educator matters can be powerful in many ways. Advocating connects you and gives you resources to actually enact the change you want to see in your classroom. Advocating, even to a single parent or to your friends, can raise awareness and get people talking about the important issues in education. Most importantly, advocating means that you get tocontribute and help shape the face of education. If you don’t speak up, your voice will never be heard. The other point that really spoke to me was that advocating doesn’t have to be this big undertaking. You don’t have to speak to an audience of thousands, you don’t have to write books or give lectures, you don’t even have to lead a staff meeting if you don’t want to, but you can still advocate. You can advocate by tweeting and posting on social media. You can advocate by collaborating and discussing issues with other educators and citizens. You can advocate by writing blogs or talking to your student’s parents. I thought that this quote said it all rather well:
“We somehow mistakenly believe that teachers can only make a difference in their classrooms, their immediate sphere of influence. But there is so much more we have to offer each other. Every teacher leader’s journey is different. Every teacher leader’s influence is needed. Every teacher leader’s reach is valuable. The moment you believe you own your profession and that you should lead your profession, step up, take action, and make your voice heard. Look toward your local association and connect with other leaders who have the same passions as you. I don’t know if I would call myself a leader had that potential not been recognized by my union friend. I might still feel isolated in my classroom. Or worse, I might have left the profession altogether.”