0161: A few tools missing from my teacher toolbox…and how to get them
#education #SOSchat #advocacy
When I first stepped into a classroom I had an incomplete box of tools. I had your basic tools. I knew a bit about planning lessons. I had taught a few myself during practicums and student teaching. I knew a bit about literacy. How to write rules. How to teach the basics. On top of that I had some knowledge of language and linguistics, and other content/social knowledge. I also had experience teaching some dance forms. I had tools but not enough. None of us do when we enter. That should be expected. There’s always stuff to learn once you get on a job. But, you have to know that you need to know more. And, the people with whom you’ll be working should know the same. Schools should be a learning environment for both students and teachers. Experience helps you build tools, but which ones? How could teachers enter the classroom with a few more tools?
The tools that I have developed over the years, and the ones I deem most important are advocacy, communication, and organization (of resources and people) skills. As teachers we must learn to advocate both for our students and ourselves. We must know (through critical questioning) what is important, ethical, and right, and be damn determined to stand by that, whatever the cost. Advocacy has many forms and can be linked strongly to the communication and organization skills mentioned above. Advocacy can be as simple as providing support to a fellow teacher in order to help them embrace a new idea that can revolutionize or slightly change their practice. Or, it can involve working with outside organizations to affect legislation relating to education. Communication and organization skills correlate beautifully with the advocacy tool. As thoughtful, aware, radical teachers we have the opportunity to unite the faculties for which we work and create a powerful force of educator-advocates. We have the power to lovingly communicate ideas as we build relationships with students, fellow teachers, principals, government officials, and so forth. Small conversations lead to lasting relationships that can empower you to make changes possible. We win more through building relationship than slashing red tape with a sword.
I’ve had the opportunity to develop these tools over my career through work with non-profit advocacy groups, experienced teachers, professors, government workers, and stubbornness. I get a little better, a little quicker each time I use them. Even better if I help someone else develop their toolbox. We learn what tools we need as we wander along the path that reveals itself just as we take the next step. The important thing is to commit to developing your toolbox and knowing it was never full to begin with.
What can we do to help our fellow teachers develop their toolboxes? Could teacher education programs offer some training in some of these other areas such as advocacy? I think it would be beneficial.(?). What is a good first step? How are you an advocate? Do you see yourself as one? Is there anymore information I can help you find?