During the weekend of October 7th - 8th, I attended the first annual LEE school organizing conference in Dallas, Texas. The school organizing conference encouraged us as teachers and school leaders to create lessons and engage in leadership development of students and other important constituents in school communities. Above is an image of a poster made with other teachers from across the country to illustrate the power of collective leadership, which is orchestrated by lessons of and facilitating advocacy.
Students learn that they can use individual or collective assets to navigate and challenge systemic injustices or inequity of opportunities, or to increase pride in cultural identity.
Teaching students to advocate for themselves is an integral component of my work as a Teach for America educator. As a Teach for America educator, I am working towards a goal that one day all students receive an equal education. In order for that one day to arrive, I must equip my students with tools of advocacy for self and others to empower their communities. For the past three years, I've been very fortunate to teach different age-levels of scholars throughout elementary school (first grade, Kindergarten and fourth grade). In each stage of development scholars are learning different tools of advocacy for self and others. In Kindergarten, students are learning how to express their feelings productively, read and write to contribute in their school community. In first grade, students are learning how to express themselves to their peers to share and begin to understand their voice and action has value. In fourth grade, scholars are learning about the important individual pride and how to navigate and challenge systemic injustices of inequity of opportunities. Advocacy regardless of stage of development must be taught and encouraged for change.
LEE National Organizing Workshop
The itinerary displayed above demonstrates our scheduled learning for the LEE National Organizing Workshop. I left the weekend with many tools to facilitate and join with persons for advocacy in my school community. I am constantly, humbled during workshops with other educators across the country, learning about his or her challenges and his or her efforts to facilitate a space for student advocacy in the classroom and school community.
As a Teach for America alumni, I constantly challenge myself to participate in workshops similar to this one because I want my students to learn that they can use individual or collective assets to navigate and challenge systemic injustices or inequity of opportunities, or to increase pride in cultural identity. More importantly, I need my students to demonstrate an ability to speak, write and think about real-world problems.
In an elementary classroom, advocacy can take many different forms for students. Empowering students with the knowledge of injustice in the world, facilitates students growth in creating informed opinions about change, knowing their voice and actions have value, and allowing students to advocate for themselves and others. The more opportunities provided to students to facilitate change in their community and directly address issues of inequality or injustice the more power students begin to feel as participants in democracy. As an educator, facilitating advocacy in the classroom is one of the primary reasons I choose to teach at a Freedom and Democracy school. I want my students to understand their power and right as citizens in a democracy and take full advantage of their freedom to pursue choice in our society. Teaching students the individual or collective assets to navigate and challenge systemic injustices or inequality of opportunities to increase pride in cultural identity is paramount to building a classroom of active and knowledgeable students.