Imagine this. You are standing in front of your school board with an incredible professional learning plan that you have designed and begun to implement and now you want to continue and spread the implementation. You begin your presentation with the exciting components that are included. You detail the costs that would be required to fully implement your plan. You speak with enthusiasm and you let the members know that this will make a difference in your district or province. But then the hush falls. School board members have been addressed all night with great ideas. What is going to make them agree to fund yours? It’s not just a good idea or even a great presentation. That’s not enough.

Advocacy begins with telling a story and educators are great storytellers. A good story begins with a compelling challenge that needs to be addressed. Are your students struggling in math? Is your teacher retention rate going down every year? Are you increasing the number of schools in your district that are placed on the in need of improvement list? Are educators burned out? Capture your audience with a story that is relatable and clear. Make sure to include details that are specific to your district or province.

Then make your pitch. Remember – you are the expert. Lay out a plan that will articulate how high-quality professional learning will be used to address the problem. Who will be the professional learning recipients? How long will this plan take to be implemented? Why is this a good use of funds? What evidence do you have that this will work?

The “E” word!! Evidence – this is how a nice story becomes a compelling story and the closer the evidence can be to your community, the better. Be ready to finish this sentence, “As a result of the professional learning…” Look for data that you already have that shows a positive change as a result of professional learning. The data can be in the form of survey results, system data (teacher absentee or retention rates), student feedback, student achievement or other pieces of data that you feel tell a story.

You can add to your “E” word the “R” word, research. What do others outside your community who have been studying high-quality professional learning have to share? Check out “Supporting Research” on the Powered by Title II website for some great studies.

For a long time, professional learning seemed like a given. Who could imagine education without ongoing professional learning? But today, nothing is a given and as advocates, we need to make the case for high-quality professional learning that is ongoing and consistent. We can do this! And Learning Forward is here to help!

Check out Learning Forward’s new story telling tool.

Melinda George
(melinda.george@learningforward.
org) is chief policy officer at Learning
Forward.