I’m excited about all that is happening within the Alabama NBCT Network. We have made many influential connections over the last few years, and I’m humbled to have the opportunity to serve on the board. One of our main missions is to promote advocacy for our profession. It is tough to be a public school educator these days, but sometimes I think we are our own worst enemies. We often speak very negatively about what’s happening in our schools and our classrooms. We would do well to remember that students, parents, and community members are listening when we talk about all of the reasons it’s difficult to be an educator. While we need to vent sometimes, I think it’s important to understand the power that we hold. We must be the best we can be because our students’ futures are at stake. Over the next few weeks in preparation for Alabama NBCT Week (March 8th – 14th), we will be promoting advocacy for all Alabama educators. Our hope is that you, too, will consider the benefits of speaking well of the noblest profession.
Advocacy is hard. We work tirelessly at school all day long dealing with a myriad of problems and then when we go home, we have families to take care of, and ball games, PTA meetings, and church services to attend, not to mention grading papers and getting ready for the next day at school. But consider the possibilities if every single one of us takes 10 minutes a day to send out a tweet or an email to a legislator or school board member about a particular concern that we have? Instead of complaining about what’s wrong within our world, what if each one of us took action and actually did something to correct the problem? What could we accomplish?
I would encourage each and every one of us to reach out to our administrators, central office personnel, school board members, and legislators. Often we’re afraid to step out on a limb, but since I’ve begun stepping out and offered new ideas, no one has told me no and everyone has listened to what I had to say. I believe they welcome a fresh perspective. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve been so encouraged over the last year when I’ve reached out to a legislator or central office administrator – they want to hear from us; they truly appreciate the work we do and want to do what’s best for students.
Don’t complain about not being a part of the decision-making process if you won’t come to the table. Participate with us in Montgomery at Hill Day and you’ll see that most of the time, legislators are very receptive and willing to listen to our voice. They don’t intentionally make decisions that negatively impact teachers and students. They just often don’t hear our side, and that’s not their fault; it’s our fault. We must be willing to be a part of the ongoing conversation and not let others make decisions for us.
When I speak with school leaders and legislators, I always promote the impact on student learning that we have, and who can be against student learning? So go ahead, speak up and offer some of your innovative ideas to someone who can help you change the course of public education. Please join us for our Twitter chat on Advocacy on March 9th at 8 pm using #phenomalALNBCT and remember, if not you, then who?
Valerie Johnson, NBCT
2nd Vice President of the ALNBCT Network
Mary G. Montgomery High School