Learning is an Open Door

In October of 2020, I was invited to contribute a chapter to a book entitled, “Everyday Advocacy” by Dr. Cathy Fleischer and Dr. Antero Garcia. The book’s aim was to give insight into how educators have advocacy as a priority in their teaching. What does it look like in different classrooms? What considerations are taken to do this work?

I discussed how one form of advocacy is transparency and sharing what learning is happening in the classroom. In Texas, mandatory state testing has been the main tool to evaluating public schools, but this gives such a small snapshot of the skills of our learners. Inviting the public in by posting artifacts on Twitter gives a wider audience the opportunity to understand the sequencing, content, and thinking of students.

Twitter also has many more benefits. Sharing work to someone other than their facilitator asks learners to revisit, revise, and have a deeper understanding of purpose and audience. Learners are able to use hashtags and mentions to connect their content to particular individuals and organizations of similar interest. The tweets that grab attention are multi-modal so learners are asked to do a digital make to support their understanding of the content. They also must summarize their learning in the body of the tweet. Since tweets can be replied to and quote tweeted, they can support one another, question, and ask for more from other learners as they post. Finally, learners are able to practice digital citizenship and understand how social media can help them to deeper their learning and expand their own personal learning networks.

While I am opening the door to my own classroom to offer more real-time check-ins of what happens in a public school classroom in lieu of the limited insight gained from a standardized test score, my learners are also advocating to have their own voice heard in this conversation. The funny thing is while I am advocating for people to take another look at how literacy instruction works in my classroom, I am also teaching my learners how to self-advocate. They have a working knowledge of how to use Twitter effectively as a tool to advocate for causes important to them.

We talk all the time about authentic learning. Well, there’s something also to be said about authentic teaching. When educators understand what’s important to them, who they are as an educator, they understand that at the heart of teaching is being an advocate. We do this every day. How we do it, why we do it, how impactful we are varies, but we are teachers, and thus, we are advocates.

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