Why is it so hard to talk up our own programs? Is it because we think it is bragging? We need to dispel that thought right now.
It is important to advocate for your classes, students, and school. I am often surprised when I am taking with community members, and they have such little knowledge of what goes on inside the school walls.
Why should you advocate?
We need the support from our communities. Not only in funding and voting, but bringing people into the school to strengthen curriculum. I can stand in front of my students all day and tell them how pheasants should be raised. However, when I ask a community member to come into the class, explain their expertise and background with raising pheasants, then we walk together down to our pheasant pens and they continue the lesson there, the students are hooked. This would never happen if I didn’t reach out to the Pheasants Forever chapter and present our new project to them.
People do not know what they do not know.
If you do not talk about your program, how will anyone know what you are doing? Students are funny. They will go home and tell part of the story. We as teachers, need to finish the story. Invite parents to club meetings. We have an FFA chapter meeting once a month. At each meeting, 20-25 students attend. The only parents present are the two that have been asked to be there to help chaperone. Have the other 78 parents been told they can attend, and that we always have a family friendly environment? I conducted a quick survey on Facebook in preparation for this post. I had an idea of the response I was going to get, but to make it concrete, I asked anyway. One question was “Are you informed about what is going on?” The response was concentrated on each end of the spectrum.
The majority feel they are (1), however, many feel they are not informed (5). One difference would be if their children are in the school system currently or not. How can I close this communication gap? I asked my Facebook friends how they would prefer to receive program updates. Most preferred e-mail, and silly me forgot social media as an option.
Be aware of other programs.
I was visiting with the science teacher today. He was telling me the story about how students caught some fish and came storming in to put them in his fish tank. A parent who works for Fish and Game happened to be in the building and listed the many reasons why the fish more than likely would not survive (I will skip the middle portion of this story…). While the parent was around, the science teacher set up a field trip to the hatchery. He asked if I wanted to take my wildlife class. OFCOURSE! Now we have two separate science classes working on a similar project, and we are utilizing our resources to best serve our students. This would not be an opportunity if we did not have regular communication. The best part was the students initiated the interaction.
My goal this year is to invite our new Superintendent into my classroom to show him the amazing projects the students are working on. I know he is busy and has the best interest of our district in mind. He may not have time to research what we do, so I will make it easy for him and open the door.