Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Creating An Advocacy Plan For Your School

Principals are advocates, always advocating for their school and ways to improve the educational experience of their students. It's one of your more important roles.

Advocacy is a way to effectively press for change. It is the foundation of our democracy and a process that allows ordinary people to shape and influence policy at all levels.

So, how do you get started on creating an advocacy plan. In our new book, Rigorous Schools and Classrooms: Leading the Way, Barbara Blackburn and I suggest an seven-step process.
  • First, analyze your environment: Scan the environment in which your school exists---district, community, state, nation, world. Then identify the issues that affect your school and those that affect your community more broadly.
  • Monitor changes in your environment. Read voraciously, talk with a wide selection of people in your community and stay current with trends at the state and national level.
  • Identify the factors needed for success: Look beyond traditional factors (good teachers, money) and consider emerging issues such as the acquisition of technology, the ability to respond to changing conditions. Identify groups in your community with which you can partner.
  • Think about your assumptions: Identify the assumptions you hold about your school and community. Test them by assessing the degree of certainly (high, medium, low) and the level of impact (high, medium, low). Assumptions play an important role in constructing the future.
  • Develop a vision of an alternative future: Consider the issue of rigor and identify the factors you identified that are critical for success. Develop a vision of the future different than the current circumstances. Creating several alternatives is better.
  • Consider allies and opponents: Identify individuals or groups that may support your efforts as well as those who may resist. Be sure to include those you know and those who may emerge. Develop a plan for building alliances with your allies and understand the opposition.
  • Develop a plan for advocating for your desired future: Identify specific steps that can be taken to achieve the anticipated future. Develop both "hedging strategies" that can cope with undesirable futures and "shaping strategies" that help create the desired future.
I'd enjoy hearing from you about the ways you advocate for your school and its students.

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