Sunday, October 9, 2016

Reflection on EMWP Teacher Advocacy Program

by Lisa Eddy

The Teacher Advocacy program, beginning in 2014, has had a tremendous impact on me as teacher and advocate. Learning the strategies for framing an issue and coming up with strategies to advocate for change gave me the knowledge and support I needed to advocate for less standardized testing which had nearly completely replaced our ELA curriculum.

The district had purchased a series of 8 standardized tests for grades 6-12 --which were touted as practice for the new SBAC test that was said to be coming to MI--then as practice for the new SAT when MI dropped SBAC.

As a result of what I learned from the teacher advocacy course, I was able to help facilitate change at my school by:

  • Formulating a list of “essential ingredients” for the ELA curriculum that restored Writing Workshop and independent reading, among other good literacy practices to ELA classrooms;
  • Persuading an ELA dept colleague to join me in advocating for fully developed ELA curriculum rather than teaching to the test;
  • Working with my colleague to persuade the new Curriculum Director to let us find a real, comprehensive ELA curriculum;
  • Pushing for a K-12 curriculum committee to be formed to research curricula;
  • Inviting my district’s ELA Instructional Coach to meet with Cathy Fleischer about our needs and to get some guidance;
  • Finding a curriculum we like that is written by classroom teachers, supported by research, and informed by leaders in literacy education who are involved in NWP and NCTE (Oakland/MAISA);
  • Asking the district to adopt the new curriculum.

Now, after several years of “teaching to the test”, our district once again has a research-based, comprehensive ELA curriculum, and I and my students are enjoying the first unit, Writing Workshop, because voice and choice have been restored in the ELA classroom. For the students in my district, who have done little beyond test prep in ELA since 2010, this is a huge victory, and I have to thank my colleague and instructional coach, Cathy Fleischer, and my Advocacy colleagues for giving me the support I needed to stand up for what’s right for students.

17 September 2016

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