Teachers all over the United States have been advocating for themselves. In Arizona and Oklahoma, teachers have taken to the street to advocate for better pay. It has been a long time coming, and I am so proud of those teachers for taking action. It motivated me to advocate for myself this year. You see, since becoming a mother, my priorities have changed, and while I love my job, I could no longer spend my evenings and weekends working. I hope this encourages you to advocate for yourself.
Here’s the gist: My planning periods are full of meetings. I could rarely get my planning, grading, copying, data analysis, and insert all the things teachers do done during the work day with all the meetings I had to attend. Teachers also had new, additional tasks that were required of us this year. I am also pumping, so add that into the equation, and I felt like I was drowning. It was time to take action.
Advocating for Yourself
***Disclaimer: This is based on my experience only. To preface, I have a strong relationship with my administration, and I have been working at my school for four years. Consider your relationship and specific situation when considering how to best advocate for yourself.***
1. Stop Complaining
I hate complaining, yet I discovered that I was always complaining to my husband and sister about all the work I didn’t have time to do. Finally, my husband said to me, “If you feel so strongly about all of this, then you need to talk to someone that has the power to fix it.” Complaining or “venting,” as I lovingly like to call it, to your coworker will most likely not result in any change. You don’t like something? You need help with something? What would you tell your students in this case? Ask for help!
2. Ask for Face-to-Face Time
I needed to talk to my school leader about my situation. Instead of sending an email detailing my problems, I sent an email requesting face-to-face time. I knew that I could convey my tone and concern much more positively than how an email could possibly be read. A meeting allows there to be a dialogue between you and the person who can help. (How ironic is it that I scheduled another meeting to solve a problem about there being too many meetings?)
3. Come Prepared
Now that you are about to meet with someone to advocate for change, come prepared. I spent the days leading up to the meeting outlining all my concerns on paper. I did not want to leave a single rock unturned. I definitely did not want to leave the meeting wishing I wouldn’t have forgotten this or that. I wrote an outline. It included a purpose statement, a list of problems, and a brainstorm of possible solutions. In addition, I practiced three times. #practicemakespermanent
4. Offer Possible Solutions
If you are going to advocate for yourself, then you will come across as much more reasonable if you offer a list of solutions. Your solutions do not have to be completely thought out or perfect, but they need to show your school leader or whoever the coming up with a solution will not completely fall on them.
My school leader is incredible. She heard me out. She took notes. She asked for some time to reflect and talk to the rest of the administration about my concern. Lastly, she asked for me to come to her again if I anything else came up. She came to the conclusion that the school needs to have systems in place to support returning parents and families. Seriously, how great is that? Unfortunately, I can’t quite yet share what the outcome is. It has been a week since that meeting, but I know that if I haven’t heard anything yet in the next week, then I will be following up!
I hope that this is encouraging to you! Hopefully, if you ever have to advocate for yourself professionally, my experience has been helpful. Have you ever had to advocate for yourself? If so, how did it go?