By Tracy Crow, Director of Communications for Learning Forward
For many of us, Election Day symbolizes our opportunity as American citizens to stand up and be counted, to pull the lever for choices that show our aspirations and values. Some take this opportunity and related campaigning activities seriously, spending time and money to influence the outcome. Others barely pay attention and don't vote, perhaps not making connections between what happens at the ballot box and their daily concerns.
For the past several months, we've seen billions of dollars worth of efforts to influence our choices on voting day. Those who run national campaigns have spent considerable energy in understanding what it takes to get a person to care enough to get themselves out of their routine and to the polling place, to make a choice. Ultimately it's up to us whether we will exercise this opportunity.
As educators, we have similar opportunities to advocate our values and aspirations, exercising the belief that we can change behavior and outcomes. Some take the opportunity to make their voices heard, while others spend their energy elsewhere, perhaps, like the non-voter, not making the connection between such discussions and the hard work in front of us.
Learning Forward believes that advocating for effective professional learning is an essential responsibility of educators. Learning Forward's Standards for Professional Learning make the case that all leaders should speak up for what they believe in. The Leadership standard states "Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students requires skillful leaders who develop capacity, advocate, and create support systems for professional learning."
The idea of advocating for professional learning means that leaders state with clarity what the connection is between the learning adults do and the learning students do. They can talk about what kinds of learning are effective, and they are willing to take this stand with their colleagues, whether they are other teachers or principals or whether they are the administrators or school board members whose support is essential for critical resources.
Speaking up for effective professional learning puts leaders in the position of arguing for new schedules that can inconvenience families or persuading other leaders that precious resources are better spent on professional learning than elsewhere. Leaders also have the responsibility of showcasing and celebrating the successes they can attribute to professional learning to help stakeholders see for themselves the very real connection between adult and student learning.
The leaders with this responsibility encompass more than principals and superintendents. Leaders include teachers who take on formal or informal leadership roles in their schools; such leaders have the potential to influence their peers in ways that other administrators cannot.
And in the end, when the results of our advocacy efforts are in, we'll either celebrate what we consider a victory or look ahead to how to campaign differently next time. Either way, the engaged participant will still feel their responsibility to speak up for their beliefs. In the case of education leaders, we know our constituency is too important for us to sit back and keep our mouths shut.
Views expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the endorsement of the Learning First Alliance or any of its members.