Life Hack: Self-Advocacy

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This year, as I journey to becoming a fourth-grade teacher (previously first grade) I would like to incorporate student-led parent-teacher conferences into the year. These conferences consist of conversations between my students, their parents, and I. However, contrary to the traditional parent teacher conference, the student will be running the show. Students will be sharing their progress with their parents, along with their goals, any issues they are having, plans to address issues, and any areas needing support. One of the primary reasons I have decided to do this is because I feel very strongly about teaching my students how to advocate for themselves. I believe my students should be knowledgeable about their individual experiences and should be actively involved in their education enough so that they are able to solicit support on their own. As an educator, I have realized how important it is to teach my students how to advocate for themselves in their education as well as their communities. However, I’ve never realized that there are so many adults who have never been taught self-advocacy.

When you digest it all, it makes sense why so many people are unhappy in their careers, relationships, and friendships due their to lack of ability to advocate for themselves. The ability to represent your own views and interests in the presence of others is imperative in order to ensure your needs are consistently being met. It is no one else’s job but yours to be aware of what you need and want, along with possessing the willingness to stand and speak up for those things. We teach children that it is important to speak up for their needs and when something is wrong, but as adults we lose sight of this skill. Being an advocate for yourself is one of the strongest leadership qualities in that it means you understand your own strengths and weakness, you have established some goals, and you have determined what additional supports you may need to reach your goals. A leader must be able to stand up for themselves and seek any assistance that they have recognized as a necessity.

I challenge you to self-assess and determine if you’ve been truly advocating for yourself. In order to do that you must do three things:

  1. Get To Know Yourself –
    • What am I really good at?
    • What are some things I struggle with?
    • What are my priorities?
  2. Establish Goals –
    • What do I want to get done?
    • What do I need in order to get this done?
    • Who might know this information?
  3. Solicit Support
    • Does this provide me the assistance I need to accomplish my goal?

We must speak up for ourselves and stop being afraid to seek assistance from others in order to further a dream or goal of yours! This is YOUR life, take responsibility for it lovebug.

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