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 16-18 June in Washington, DC, at the new TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit (formerly TESOL Advocacy Day).
Why should you attend? Participants who have attended in the past were asked that very question. Although there’s a new name for the program, the reasons remain the same. Here are their Top 10 Reasons to Participate in TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit:
1. You will gain in-depth knowledge about federal policy issues affecting English language learners, their teachers, and schools. In addition to detailed policy briefs and other background reading provided before the event, the Summit will feature Congressional staff, federal officials, and other experts discussing the latest on key policy issues for the field. The new summit format will also allow for a broader discussion of policy issues, rather than the more narrow focus of legislation. You will learn a tremendous amount of information in a short period of time – and how it impacts the field.
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 teachers and schools locally. What is happening in Washington, DC, does have a local impact on your school and your students. 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 for your community. This year’s program will also include activities to help develop your skills and capacity to advocate back home.
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 have never done this before. By participating in the TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit you will receive step-by-step instructions on how to contact your elected officials, make your appointments, and conduct your meeting. This information makes the whole process much easier and prepares you for an effective meeting with your 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.
6. You will also provide a face for the field of TESOL to elected officials and representatives. More and more information is available about the needs of English learners in education, and research continues to grow. However, the voice of the teacher is one that is often missing in policy circles. You can fill that gap and provide key information on what it’s like in the classroom. You are the face of TESOL.
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. Elected officials and policy makers rarely have the opportunity to talk directly to ESL experts and classroom teachers, so many officials and their staff will be eager to hear what you have to say.
8. You will get to walk the halls of power in Washington, DC. Operate like a Washington insider and walk the halls of Congress. You’ll be on Capitol Hill for a full day for meetings, so you’ll have time to see and explore the place where our legislators do the people’s business.
9. You will gain solidarity with a network of other like-minded TESOL professionals from across the United States. The TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit 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. You will create a network of support that you can count on throughout the year.
10. You will benefit from an unparalleled leadership development experience. Ask anyone who has participated before – you will leave the Summit 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 the TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit. If your affiliate hasn’t yet identified a delegate for this year, contact your local affiliate to see if they will support your attendance.
Affiliates should contact Valerie Borchelt or John Segota with the name of their delegate to register.
Register before 17 May for only $99 USD. Full details and registration information available are available on the TESOL Advocacy and Policy Summit webpage.
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 or similar events in the past? Do you have other reasons you would add?