The professional development of your staff includes more than just completing the required number of ongoing training hours each year. Professional development includes honing skills, learning to collaborate with others, and increasing knowledge about the field. Advocacy is an excellent way to boost the professionalism of the teachers working in your program. Some states have even incorporated involvement in professional development activities, beyond training, as a requirement for teacher credentialing.
In order to effectively incorporate advocacy into your program, you might consider including it in your philosophy or mission statement. You could add a statement such as, “In addition to providing high-quality early learning experiences for children, we will also actively advocate for policies and practices that ensure children and families reach their highest potential.” This will allow you to introduce the idea of advocacy as a fundamental principle of your program to each family and new staff member who joins the team.
Next, you will need to educate your employees on what advocacy is, how to engage in advocacy, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable within your program. NAEYC has created a resource that non-profit organizations can use to guide these discussions.
Engage staff in discovering the different topics and advocacy efforts that are available in your community, which will be unique for each program. Recognize that staff will be drawn to different topics or issues. Allow staff to choose their own issues and methods of advocacy. Forcing everyone to participate in the same issue, in the same fashion, is inauthentic and defeats the purpose of cultivating the passion that advocacy can generate.
That’s not to say that you couldn’t have a program-wide issue that you work on together, but be sure to allow staff members to contribute in ways that match their personalities and levels of comfort. As you engage in new projects, you can encourage staff members to take small steps out of their comfort zones.
The Alliance for Justice has developed an online evaluation called the Advocacy Capacity Tool that can be used to reflect on the advocacy efforts of your program or organization. The tool is available here.
For the main article Advocacy in Early Childhood Education, CLICK HERE
For the article Advocacy Opportunities in ECE, CLICK HERE
For the article Advocacy Strategies, CLICK HERE
For the article Involving Families and Children, CLICK HERE