If you are like most educators, I’m sure that you are anxiously awaiting the CDC revisions outlining how schools will reopen this fall and stressing over how we can possibly reopen schools, but I propose that educators shift our focus to how can we best educate our students during the Coronavirus Pandemic. As educators we have two choices…. to sit back as a silent bystander or to be a voice for children by advocating for their safety. In this perspective, a silent bystander would sit home, watch the news, talk with friends about the “what if” in regard to the guidelines that could be set forth. I’m sure that none of you are doing this. Instead, you would and should use your voice to advocate for children. It will take all of us to do this the right way. Our kids are counting on you to do your part.
Suggested Tips for advocating for students and helping schools to reopen safely include:
- Doing your homework: Research what an advocate is and does. While researching don’t forget to research both sides of the argument. You must understand both sides before you can make sure that you are advocating for putting children first. Don’t forget to incorporate the five steps of advocacy which are clarity of purpose, safeguarding and privacy, equality and diversity, empowerment, and putting people first.
- Remembering the origin of the word advocacy. It comes from the Latin word “advocare” which means to call out for support. The origin of advocacy dates back to ancient Rome and Greece when orators, like Cicero and Caesar, would perform as advocates or write speeches/monologues specifically pleading for someone’s cause.
- Crafting a plan/speech that is “solution-driven“. This is not the time to complain. Instead, you should propose specific protocols that you know will keep you, your students, the staff, and community visitors safe during in-person school settings. This could include protocols for classes going to the restroom, socially distancing in the halls, how to navigate the process of students picking up lunches, dismissal procedures, etc.
- E-mailing/Calling/Setting up a Meeting with the governor, one of the school reopening task force members, school board members, your district superintendent, and/or your administrator. Then present them with your proposed solution-oriented plan/speech.
- Other ways to advocate include sending a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, submitting an article to a national magazine, writing a blog or creating a website that provides resources to assist other educators, writing poems or creating artwork that inspires others to begin or continuing advocating for children. I wrote the poem below for educators and it was published last month. I hope that it inspires you to continue or begin advocating for children. They deserve it and are depending on us.
If you don’t know where to start, these questions might help:
- What is missing from the current school reopening plans?
- What procedures or routines could be implemented to help keep students, teachers, school leaders, and community visitors safe during in-person school settings?
- Are there materials that would be helpful to ensure social distancing within the in-person school setting?
As always, I have provided additional resources to help further your knowledge on this topic. Thanks for visiting my blog and I will see you next Friday!!