How to Advocate for Anything (including your students)

 

--Define the problem clearly: reduce big general problems to smaller specific problems

--Do your homework 

            Find resources

            Learn about the policies, procedures, organization, and complaint process

            Learn about the laws

            Seek out an ally within the system

            Ask lots of questions

            Brainstorm realistic solutions

            Know what you want to achieve

            Make sure your side agrees on the goal and possible solutions

Think about the ďother sideísĒ situation

 

--Starting at the bottom level, request a meeting

 

Know who will attend every meeting. Document everything           

Bring more questions than answers

Know who has the power to implement a decision

Focus on the symptoms, not the diagnosis. (Donít use the ďbĒ word)

Seek consensus on the problem, but donít get sidetracked

Seek consensus on the solution

Be polite but very persistent.  Follow up faithfully.

Know when to give up and donít beat yourself up if you lose

 

--Close the deal:  Before you leave:

 

            Know what will be done, who will do it and when

            Send a letter describing the agreement and thanking participants

            Check back to ask how the agreement is going

            If you are happy with the outcome, send a thank-you note

 

--Donít give up if you lose.  Look for another solution

 

--Work with others at EVERY level; reach out and network

 

--Be careful about taking advice

 

Be sure the source knows what they are talking about.  Trust your own competence, judgement, and instincts

 

 

--Donít expect to be perfect.  Do it anyway

 

Communication is essential, DONíT HESITATE TO ADVOCATE