PROFILE OF A VOLUNTEER

 

donors-choose

I chose to highlight DonorsChoose, which makes “it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need, moving us closer to a nation where students in every community have the tools and experiences they need for a great education” (DonorsChoose.org, 2016). I teach Kindergarten in an impoverished, urban public school district area. I only receive $150 each year to fund my classroom supplies and materials, which is definitely not enough to cover what I need to effectively teach my students.

Therefore, I created a classroom project request on DonorsChoose.org. Donors and supporters from all over the world look at the project request and donate between $1 and millions of dollars, whichever amount that inspires them to fund. After the entire project request has been fully funded, the materials are purchased from DonorsChoose.org to ensure accountability, and delivered to my school. Volunteers offer their services to DonorsChoose.org by making sure these request are fulfilled.

On a personal note, the contributors and volunteers at DonorChoose.org have, positively impacted my students and my classroom environment. Since we are on the receiving end of classroom supplies and materials that are really needed, I can effectively teach, allowing my students to successfully learn. Other public school teachers from all over the country would agree with me. “94 percent of teachers said that their funded projects increased the effectiveness in their classroom” (DonorsChoose.org, 2016).

After I receive the supplies, I send a hand-written thank-you letter, also signed by my students. I take pictures of the students receiving their materials and supplies. People who volunteer and donate love to see the results and get feedback. What I take away in terms of my own volunteer efforts and advocacy work in fostering the well being of children and families is that this type of work allows me to help people in need and worthwhile causes, which also gives me a sense of purpose.

Reference

DonorsChoose.org (2016). DonorsChoose.org. Retrieved from https://www.donorschoose.org/about

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USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO GET CONNECTED

Social Media

 

I have never used social media in the past and I do not presently have any social media accounts. When I think of social media, I think of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. But if this qualifies for social media, the only accounts that I do have are an email, a blog, and Pinterest. As you probably guessed by now, I am not a fan of social media because many people use it for so many negative reasons. In terms of advocacy, social media is an effective tool, when used properly. It can help you reach and recruit so many people that you would not likely have access to.

 

Social media definitely gets the conversation started. I think that Facebook and Twitter lend themselves to effective advocacy. I hear that hundreds to millions of users are able to see what you post and that could be potential people to join your advocacy group. If I were on Facebook or Twitter, I would mostly use visuals and images. People don’t want to read long posts, and “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I am interested in using social media to further my advocacy. Since, I am not social media savvy, what advice or suggestions do you have for me?

ADVOCACY MESSAGES

“A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE”

UNCF.svg_-1024x666.png“In 1972, the Ad Council launched the Supporting Minority Education campaign to encourage Americans to support the United Negro College Fund—and today, 60,000 minority students attend college each year with support from the UNCF” (Ad Council, 2016). This slogan has been embedded in my brain for as long as I can remember. As a very young child, I would watch the annual telethon that was hosted by the United Negro College Fund. I remember thinking that I wanted to go to college, before I even knew what college was. Coming from a single parent household, the odds were definitely against me. But I was determined to go. This was because I learned from an early age that a mind is a terrible thing to waste and I wanted to do something with my mind. This slogan gave me hope. I was the first one in my family to attend and graduate from college.

“LOVE HAS NO LABELS”

human label

Love has no labels. Love cannot and should not be limited. This message gives us hope and reminds us “before anything else, we are all human. It’s time to embrace diversity. Let’s put aside labels in the name of love” (Ad Council, 2016). We live in a diverse world where all human beings should be treated with respect. But this is not the case. Discrimination and unfair treatment has ruined our society. As a teacher it is important for me to look at my own hidden biases before I can teach children in an anti-bias classroom environment. “For a lot of students, school is where they experience the most diversity in their lives” (Ad Council, 2016). Teaching tolerance and acceptance in the classroom will help build a new generation of people who hopefully display tolerance and acceptance for others for the rest of their lives. For the sake of all humanity, it is definitely worth trying.

References

Ad Council. (2016). Supporting Minority Education. Retrieved from http://www.adcouncil.org/Our-Campaigns/Education/Supporting-Minority-Education

Ad Council. (2016). The truth about bias and prejudice. Retrieved from http://lovehasnolabels.com/tips

MY OWN CAPACITY

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Many issues impact young children and their families and/or the field of early childhood. One issue which fuels my passion is creating and anti-bias learning environment. At the beginning of every school year, I focus on setting up the classroom with materials and visuals that all children and their families feel welcomed and supported. As a classroom teacher, I not only recognize diversity in the classroom, but I also show young children that diversity is explored, embraced and accepted. This includes race, gender, culture, language, age, ability, ethnicity, and many others.

 

There are two main resources that I have at my disposal that can benefit my advocacy work. It the book Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves and the checklist for assessing the visual material environment. “The toys materials, and equipment you put out for children; the posters, pictures, and art objects you hang on the wall; and they types of furniture and how you arrange them all influence what children learn. What children do not see in the classroom teaches children as much as what they do see” (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010, p.161).

 

I want to improve the way young children and their families feel about themselves, being that voice that speaks up on their behalf. In order to be a more effective advocate, I would love to go to trainings and workshops that offer seminars on building an effective anti-bias classroom material and visual environment. So often, we discuss having an anti-bias curriculum or multi-cultural curriculum, but we rarely change the physical environment to be reflective of our students, their families, and the community.

References

Checklist for Assessing the Visual Material Environment. Retrieved July 23, 2016, from https://mymission.lamission.edu/userdata/desilvlp/docs/Checklist%20for%20Assessing%20Visual%20Material%20Env%20.pdf

Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010).  Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

MY ROLE AS AN ADVOCATE

96e95df97168da6bcb3c9435c386c2fdI was motivated to start advocating for very young children once I realized how powerless children were. I watched how decisions were being made for them that were not in their best interests. When I became a teacher in 2001, I was young and excited about my role as an educator. I began to notice that other teachers (not all, but most) around me did not have that same enthusiasm or passion to make a difference. I saw how they treated the students, how they spoke to the students, how they taught the students. There were low expectations set for these children and therefore they did not receive the proper education that they were entitled to. I knew that as a mother, I wouldn’t just sit back and let this happen to my own child, so I decided to advocate for all students and their families.

It is essential to acknowledge and foster advocacy efforts at the micro as well as the macro level. Sometimes it is possible to find solutions for problems that children and their families have at the local level. But there are also circumstances where services and programs are still not suitable even after advocacy attempts have been put into place. Then it becomes necessary to request change at the state and national level. Either, at the local, state, or national level, advocates need to work collaboratively with each other in their efforts to effect change. It takes strong community leaders who have the ability to recognize that there is a problem, is passionate about making a difference, and able to effectively turn thought into action.

It takes many different resources to be a state leader on early childhood issues. You need funds as well as advocates who are willing to stand up for what they believe in. Also, having a state advisory board will help serve as counsel to ensure that early childhood issues are being represented (Zero to Three Policy Center, 2008). The tactics or strategies that I use to mobilize others is educating them about the issues and concerns that young children and their families are faced with. Then, I would inform them on what I am doing to advocate and how they can also effect change. The advice that I would give to someone who was interested in taking a leadership role in advocating for young children and their families is put yourself in their position and ask yourself what you would want someone to do for you.

Reference

Zero to Three Policy Center. (2008). Advocacy strategies to improve outcomes for very young children: Interviews with leaders at the state and community levels. Retrieved from http://centralpt.com/upload/356/7624_AdvocacyLeaders_final.pdf

 

PERSONAL ADVOCACY REFLECTION

Hello my name is advocate

I would like to tell you about a woman whom I refer to as my “she”ro. Her son was diagnosed with Autism at the tender age of two. At the time of his diagnosis, she lived in a school district, which she felt could not provide quality special education services for her son. She put her job as a parole officer on hold for a while and decided to become a full-time advocate for her son. Naturally, parents are advocates for their children, having their child’s best interests at heart.

She decided to do some research and found other parents in her same situation. After careful thought and consideration, she partnered up with four other parents of autistic children, and together they formed their own school. Later, she won her case against the board of education in her town, and was able to send her son to Princeton Child Development Institute (PCDI). PCDI offers science-based services to children, youths, and adults with autism.

Now her son is seventeen year old young man. At one point he wouldn’t even speak or look at you. Now he gives you direct eye contact, talks, reads, writes, plays the piano, swims on the swim team, and is learning work-study skills as he prepares for adult independence. I have been fortunate enough to bare witness to the impact advocacy has had on my friend’s son and other children affected by autism. This is why I know how to advocate for my own children, and am inspired to advocate for others as well.

 

Reference

Princeton Child Development Institute. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.pcdi.org

ADVOCACY ACTION OVERVIEW

Lorax

When Dr. Seuss wrote the book, The Lorax, it was banned in some schools and libraries, because of its environmental message. But by taking a stand, the book had sold over 200 million copies. Along with many other teachers, I use it in the classroom every year to teach conservation and ways to save the Earth.

 

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It is time for us to raise awareness to issues that have been put on the back-burner for way too long. We need to hold people accountable for their actions, and change what is into what should be. By advocating, we are taking a stand, taking action, and making advancements toward change.