Last Friday’s Advocacy meeting went well, although a few of you will point out “done” much. We did have some excellent conversations, and aside from exploring and brainstorming our purpose, we don’t have much to show for what we did. That is a sword that cuts both ways.
Before I go on, I did want to point out that I created a couple online resources to aid the online community:
- Google Group discussion list: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/unit-4-parent-advocacy-discussion
- Submission requests can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Weebly page for the committee (I take blame for any/all ugliness): http://unit4parentadvocacycommittee.weebly.com/
I grew impatient waiting for others to do this. 🙂 On a more serious note, why is it that the Unit 4 web presence does not empower its own employees to be co-creators? Or to zoom out, why is the web so hard? In our day and age, I expect much more of user interfaces. But now I digress.
So for last Friday. The majority of our time was spent trying to figure out what we were doing. 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, a lot of great ideas came up – when Cheryl posts the notes and minutes, you can read over them to see how the committee is shaping up. It is obvious that there are is no single working definition of “advocacy”, thus to find a “mission statement” or a succinct “purpose” was all but impossible. So we came up with a series of core beliefs about what we thought advocacy should do. As mentioned previously, there is a lot of overlap with Laura Taylor’s Social Justice Committee. In fact Sean Morrison (principal at Westview) was sitting right next to me and mentioned this very thing at the meeting.
The last part of the meeting was exploring the idea of a “Needs Assessment”. I had emailed the group earlier (as mentioned in a blog post) about other resources that are already doing this sort of thing – I have no idea if my email got any traction or not. The 13 or so of us that were present all ended the meeting with an action item to somehow access needs in our local circles. I think the point is that we will report back to the group in January and somehow address those needs. I think.
Afterwards I had a most excellent chat with one of the members who is a kindergarten teacher. She has done several home visits with the parents and has shared what an amazing impact that has had. I talked to her with the purpose of trying to figure out how to get other teachers to do the same. It turned out to be a very satisfying and exciting conversation, and I think we are going to try to cross school boundaries and first introduce this idea (and the impact it has had) to various parents first. It is my hope to get a groundswell of parents who see the value of home visits and actively desire it, hoping to build momentum to get the parent voice to demand this of the district. Of course, if we are misguided and most parents do not want this, there will be no strong voice. 🙂 I think this experiment to see if our ideas are in the right place or not.
Cheryl also suggested that I read Dan and Chip Heath’s “Switch: How to change things when change is hard” (found a free ebook for those interested). Having made my way about 2/3 through it, I have realized it shares a significant parallel to Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” and Jonah Lehrer’s “How we decide”; very similar styles of writing and format, with extremely similar concepts just using different words. I read these kinds of books and I find them simultaneously invigorating and frustrating. Invigorating because there is a lot that strikes a chord with me and helps me understand the world around me. Frustrating because too often I see the big changes I would like to happen and loose track of the small “next steps” that are much more practical. The big picture often overwhelms me – I find myself wanting someone else to tell me what to do. I don’t want to make the decisions. Some times I don’t even want to talk. I just want to do.