At the beginning of my endeavor as a UEA Policy Ambassador, I was intimidated, naïve and completely scared out of my mind. So why did I volunteer for this? I had an epiphany that most of our political leaders really wanted to do the right thing, however, they were expected to be an expert in so many things. How could they possibly know what the right thing was when it came to work that they didn’t do every day? I wanted to be someone in their inner circle that they could reach out to and talk through issues that were being discussed. I wanted to become a person that they could rely on for times when items were out of their element but were completely in mine. Mostly, I wanted these representatives to know that I was someone who was willing to talk and listen through the issues that affect me and the work I do with students. I wanted to be “in the room where it happens.”
So, I put my toe in and started to learn the process. I began with introducing myself – just like I would if I were meeting a new student in my office. I even used this tactic at the local level with my school board representative. What I have learned is that those I reached out to were eager, yes eager, to hear my perspective. They wanted to hear what I had to say and valued my opinion. I even have the green light from an individual to text anytime because my insight is valued and appreciated – a luxury this person said is not granted to everyone.
Are we best friends? No. Not yet. But I know the seeds of a partnership have been planted and this can happen for you too! Because at the end of the day we all want the same thing – what is best for our students! Start with your strengths. If you know case law in and out, use that approach. If you know how to build relationships, work that angle. Find a bill that interests you, or reach out to your representative and say, ‘hey, I voted for you! I’d like to meet you and see how we can work together to support our students.’
Just jump in and we’ll be at the table in the room where these decisions are made.
School Counselor @ Copper Mountain Middle School
UEA Policy Ambassador
Educator is currently synonymous with the word teacher, but there are so many more stakeholders in a school building that impact our students’ education. Over the course of the last few decades, as we have seen the impact that the evolution from guidance counselor to school counselor with the implementation of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) national model, school counselors are continuing to become noticed and valued professionals. While we have made strides, we must continue to advocate, innovate and collaborate with other school-based specialists to positively promote our impact for the betterment of Utah’s students.
It is with this collaborative mindset that school-based specialist associations across the state have come together to create the Utah Coalition of School-Based Specialists (UCSS). The UCSS was born from the realization that as professionals in the workplace, particularly schools, we are frequently working closely together as a team to support students. It is only natural that our organizations would work together as a continuation of that teamwork. The adage, "we get more done together than we do apart," rings true for educators and those who work in the more itinerant education support roles.
United we stand to create change, empower our organizations, and best support our members and their students. Our current goals include trying to reduce ratios for all school-based specialists to match their national association guidelines, organize and host a collaborative conference that targets all school-based specialists, and to provide diversified training opportunities for members of all our organizations. We hope that our members and associations can work together to get more involved with legislature and to contact their representatives.
High School Counselor
Kearns High School
Time and time again it seems educators hear the following statement: “Keep politics out of the classroom!” Many outside of our profession expect us to hold a neutral position on all things political, and believe that politics and teaching do not go hand in hand. Some of us may agree with that sentiment, others may strongly oppose.
Enter the 2020-2021 school year. As we have all seen, this year has been one of the most politically charged, dividing times we have experienced as educators. We’ve seen COVID completely change the structure of our school and social communities, watched and stood with those demanding equality in our country and even witnessed an attack on our nation’s capital. As an adult I have struggled to process these events and how they affect me.
Our students are engaged in the same media that we are and are, in turn, grappling with the same resulting anxiety and stress. I have found myself, like many other educators, wondering how to best talk about these sensitive political topics with my students. Should I say nothing at all and hope it blows over? What if I take an oppositional stance? Will this topic lead to angry parent emails?
My biggest takeaway is this: not talking and caring about politics in our classrooms and schools is a direct disservice to our students. We owe them the opportunity to process, understand and take action regarding current events in our country. Here is a link to Teaching Tolerance, a website I have found to be extremely helpful this year. I hope you find use for it as well.
So where do we start? Navigating the political sphere in regards to our classrooms is something that is ever changing. We constantly need to adapt and switch gears to make sure we are addressing these critical topics. Maybe the first step for you is joining your local union. Or perhaps you’d like to start integrating more conversation about current issues in your classrooms. The first step for me was becoming a Policy Ambassador with UEA. I have learned more than I would have ever expected about the legislative process and how it impacts our schools. If you are a fellow educator, I urge you to take a small step this week to take some political action that will impact your students, big or small.
As an educator your job is political. Every year education bills are presented, many of which have a direct effect on your district, school and/or classroom. That is why it is important to pay attention to the education bills being discussed during the Utah legislative session and let your local house and senate representative know how you feel about the bills and hold them accountable for how they vote.
6th Grade Teacher
Diamond Ridge Elementary School
UEA Policy Ambassador
For our 1st real post we just wanted to give you some tips to remember.
Starting this school year, the Board of USCA would really like to keep you in the loop of what is going on in the Legislative Session. USCA is going to be watching the sessions from the sessions, reaching out to legislators, and trying to have some School Counselor influence on bills that are being brought up in the 2021 Legislative Session.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Legislative Process we will also be posting about how to get involved, details of how the process works, and how to get involved and make a difference in the School Counseling Profession Statewide. The more people that we can get involved and contacting their Senators and Representatives the more successful we can be for School Counselors Statewide! If you have any questions about what this blog is for or how to get involved please contact me at email@example.com.