By Teachers, For Teachers
Whether you have been a teacher for two years or 20, you have had experience working with all different types of learners. No matter the grade level, or learning level of students, teachers need to be their students’ biggest advocate. Being an advocate requires that teachers are knowledgeable about what their students need in order to best succeed. So, what can a teacher do? Here we will take a look at what a successful student advocate looks like, as well as some teaching strategies you can use to advocate for your students. Then, I offer a few basic suggestions and tips on how to be the best advocate for your students.
All children need someone to look out for them, someone to help take them toward academic success. An advocate is a person who empowers their students. They give advice, encouragement, or a listening ear. It’s an individual that lets a student know that they have someone who believes in them and who is there for them. Teachers, administrators, and school staff can be advocates for students while they are in school. They can work with students and build a repertoire and help guide them.
Our students need to know that adults in their school believe in them. They need encouragement, and want their opinions and needs validated. As teachers, we can do that for them. We can influence change and validate their feelings and needs.
Successful advocates share their knowledge and expertise. They act as a positive role model and take personal interest in their students. They motivate their students by setting a good example and demonstrating a positive attitude.
Think of all of your students. Who do you think needs an advocate? Think about when you see the student, and how often you talk to them. Develop a brief plan for how you will talk to them. Think about what you will say and how they will respond. You can say something as simple as “How are your classes going?” or “How do you think you did on your test?” Here are a few other ways that you can advocate:
Here are a few tips on how you can be the best advocate for your students.
Make decisions based on what is best for your students not anybody else. A good teacher advocate understands, supports, and defends any decisions that affect the performance of a student. They are always looking out for the best interest of their students.
Always keep the students perspective in mind. Think about what is best for that particular student and their needs.
As a student advocate, teachers must stand up for their students’ rights as well as their concerns. Be their voice when they have trouble being heard. Be knowledgeable of the laws and rules and rights of your students.
Create an environment in school in which your students can focus on their interests and utilize their own strengths. Be accepting of each student, and use your influence to protect students’ interests.
A teacher student advocate take the time to really listen to their students, and shows interest in assisting that students needs and goals. Being a good listener entails, learning about the students interests, talents, wants, and needs. Being able to know the students’ name and being sensitive to his/her feelings.
In order for your voice to be heard and your advocacy to be effective you must get involved in everything. Understand that the principal and the administration are key players in your school system. You must have their support if you want your advocacy to be effective. Get involved in staff development, volunteer for committees and join in on school activities and events. Be a positive role model and always spread the word for student advocacy. Persuade your colleagues to provide support and assistance. Motivate and inspire them to invest in any extra time they have with their students.
As an advocate, it is your job to gain support for your students. Start by gaining the support of your leaders, then your colleagues, and so on. Be active and share your passion with others. Remain positive and never forget the potential of your students.
How do you advocate for your students? Do you have any tips that you would like to share? Please share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts about student advocacy.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.