Everyone told me that college would be the greatest time of my life, and in many ways that has been true. Attending a four-year university to become a teacher is a privilege I don't take lightly, and I am thankful for the opportunity to be here. On the other hand, college has been one of the most challenging seasons of my life. Throughout my time studying education, various stressors have affected my mental, spiritual and even physical health. Nonetheless, I'm grateful for everything I've learned at my university, including how to advocate for myself.
I have always believed in the significance of advocating for social justice and world peace, but I finally realized that knowing how to advocate for myself makes me a stronger advocate for others. As a future teacher, I am certain that it will be important for me to advocate for my students. Thankfully, I recently learned that it is as important for me to advocate for myself now and in the future.
In college, I have had to fight for spots in classes that are required for me to graduate. I have had to defend my work efforts to professors and my career choice to peers who don't view education as a professional line of work. I have advocated for my mental health days to count the same as days where I have been physically sick, and I've worked to find a work-school-social balance that suits me.
All of this is just the basis for what self-advocacy and being an agent for social change will look like for me in the future. I'm just glad that I'm learning to stand up for myself and my needs now and not when I'm standing in front of a classroom of children who need me to be an advocate for them, too. So to all of the teacher candidates out there, learn to advocate for yourself now so that you can be an even better advocate for your future self and students.
As a teacher, your job is to advocate for equitable access to education for every student. You will be working for a positive work environment and to be recognized as a qualified professional. You will be arguing for students to receive additional services and for an increase in teacher pay. You will be demanding more accurate curriculum, evidence-based practices, and basic classroom supplies. You have chosen a line of work that is not for the faint of heart.
So practice now. Learn to voice your needs, and how to push for those needs to be met. Speak the positive changes you want to see in your life and your students' lives into existence. Believe in the power of one person to make the world within and beyond the walls of your future classroom a better place. Be an advocate for yourself now so you can be an agent of change for the rest of your life.