If you’re a member of TESOL International Association, you have likely heard about advocacy and the importance of getting involved. A key opportunity is coming up 18-19 June in Washington, D.C., at TESOL Advocacy Day 2012.
Why get involved? Participants in last year’s Advocacy Day were asked that very question, and they came up with a list of their Top 10 Reasons to Participate in TESOL Advocacy Day 2012:
1. You will gain in-depth knowledge about federal policy issues affecting English learners, their teachers, and schools. In addition to detailed policy briefs and other background reading provided before the event, TESOL Advocacy Day features Congressional staff, federal officials, and other experts discussing the latest key policy issues for the field. You will learn a tremendous amount of information in a short period of time – and how it impacts the profession.
2. You will learn detailed information about the inner-workings of Congress and the legislative process. Staff from Congressional offices and other speakers will also provide information on how Congress really works and how you can make an impact. More importantly, you will learn about what is going on right now, and participate directly in democracy.
3. You will empower yourself with valuable information you can bring back to your community on how to be a better advocate for your local teachers and schools. What is happening in Washington, D.C., does have an impact locally. Learning about federal policy and current developments, as well as having the experience of meeting with federal officials, will empower you to be a more effective advocate in your community.
4. You will discover that sharing your voice with policy makers is not as difficult as it seems. The thought of meeting with an elected official can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. By participating in TESOL Advocacy Day, you will receive step-by-step instructions on how to contact your elected officials, make your appointments, and conduct your meeting. This makes the whole process much easier and prepares you to meet effectively with legislators.
5. You will make a difference and give your students a voice by communicating concerns and needs directly with policy makers and elected officials in Washington. Although policy makers and elected officials receive information from constituents all the time, nothing is more powerful or effective than a face-to-face meeting where you can relay needs and concerns directly. Moreover . . .
6. You will provide a face for the field of TESOL to elected officials and representatives. More and more information is available every day about the needs of English learners in education, and the body of research continues to grow. However, the voice of the teacher is one that is often missing in policy circles. Fill in the gap and provide a face to the field by relaying what it’s like in the classroom.
7. You will have the opportunity to be heard and respected as a professional and expert in the field. No one is a better expert on what is happening in your classroom than you are. Elected officials and policy makers rarely have the opportunity to talk directly to ESL experts and classroom teachers, so most officials and their staff members will be eager to hear what you have to say.
8. You will get to walk the halls of power in Washington, D.C. Operate like a Washington insider and walk the halls of Congress. You’ll have a full day for meetings, so you will have time to see and explore Capitol Hill.
9. You will gain solidarity with a network of other like-minded TESOL professionals from across the United States. TESOL Advocacy Day is a collective experience for all involved, so a great camaraderie develops among all the participants. Learn from others who have been here before, and hear about similar situations in different areas of the country. More importantly, you will create a network of support that you can return to throughout the year.
10. You will benefit from an unparalleled leadership development experience. Ask anyone who has participated before – you will leave TESOL Advocacy Day a changed person and an empowered leader.
You will have a terrific addition to your CV/resume. (No explanation necessary.)
You may be able to participate for free!
Every affiliate of TESOL International Association is eligible for one complimentary registration for TESOL Advocacy Day 2012. If your affiliate hasn’t yet identified a delegate for this year, contact them to see if they will support your participation.
Special thanks to Margo Hernandez, Julia Maffei, Jennifer Morrison, Paula Schlusberg, Anne Shoemaker, and Debbie Vaughn for their contributions.
Have you participated in TESOL Advocacy Day? Do you have other reasons you would add?