It seems to be a large point of confusion when attempting to understand who is an advocate within the system of education, why they are considered advocates, and how young teachers, including myself, are meant to become advocates themselves. It is common for a new teacher to feel unsure of themselves or feel as though they don’t have enough power to question authority. There are times when it is smart to follow the rules put in place, but there are other times that require action—any teacher, of any age, is capable of this.
After reading How Do You Know If You’re a Teacher Leader? by Precious Crabtree and How to Become a Teacher Advocate by Jessica Cuthbertson, I was given a new outlook on what it means to be a young teacher advocate and how leadership plays into this. As a young teacher, it is most important to understand that advocacy can occur in both large and small ways. As Cuthbertson explains, “Advocacy can be as informal as a one-on-one conversation with a parent or as formal as preparing public comments and testifying before a local school board, state board of education or other governing body.” Advocacy begins where you want it to begin, but know that you must begin.
Aside from beginning, find a source of community that will back you and support you through your journey through advocacy. This community can allow you to feel confident enough to share your thoughts and opinions on helpful change within the education system. This ties in the importance of finding the leader that is within us all. When you are able to find this, advocacy seems to come easier. Crabtree explains how leadership allowed her to find her own voice, specifically after finding a mentor that helped her along the way. Her article allowed me to understand how it is okay to not feel comfortable right away when thinking of how I can fill an advocacy role as a teacher. Crabtree mentions, “You see, as a young teacher I didn’t realize my voice mattered – but even if I had, I would have been afraid to use it.” This quote really stuck with me because I realize that it is both applicable to me and other young teachers within the profession.
It seems that is the most important thing to understand that your voice, regardless of how long you have been teaching or how young you are. This voice is what can be used to inspire action within others; it is what will spread the important issues that are effecting the educational system as a whole. Many may get wrapped up in the specific school they are located in; as an advocate, young or old, you should look beyond your current situation to the larger situation. Essentially, an advocate uses their voice to impact both their immediate and removed community.
These articles showed me that anyone can be an advocate, specifically young teachers that enter the profession with a strong passion for current issues effecting education. It is important to understand how important your voice is and to know how to use it.
Go out and advocate!