The first questions I had to ask myself before I even begin to think about how I will be a child advocate is, why do students need advocates? Child advocacy to me can be taught and learned. To me I strongly believe that a child that has an advocate guardian (typically a parent) sees the advocacy being a characteristic that is showed every day, and irregularly children have guardian’s and parents who lack to show the characteristics of being an advocate and that is where I believe the teachers step up and take charge of that position. I will be an advocate to my students by showing them that I will always do what’s best for them, taking a stand for the students when needed and always taking time to listen to their needs.
The most important step I will take to ensure that I am a child advocate is to “develop ongoing relationships with advocates” and “influence decision making” (Toolkit, 2009, p.1) Relationships to me is key, kids like to feel secure and loved. Keeping relationships with advocates that have touched the students is major because learning how to be an advocate is great but learning how to be an advocate from another advocate is wonderful, learning from their mistakes and success makes great advocates. Lastly, communicating in the classroom with the children is a great way to build relationships with kids and families.
Incorporating these steps into my classroom and learning environment is just to be consistent and make a healthy habit out of these steps. For example, I will keep a journal/notebook to jot quick information down about children that I suspect may be showing behavioral problems and concerns. I will also have my peers nearby to help in case I need reassurance and how to become better at being an advocate.
I will be an advocate outside of the classroom by being involved with the community that my school is located in. I will volunteer, support the local businesses, help raise money for the school and other events and donate as well. An example that I do know to help the community is participating in the after-school program for kids and also participate in the boys and girls club.
Give an example of how you witnessed someone advocating for a child. This question alone is very tough but thinking long and hard about my Freshman year in high school Mrs. Kingston was our English teacher who was devoted to her teaching career at our school. My graduating class was not very big we had about 120 kids as of our first year in high school, so a majority of everyone knew everyone in our high school. The nicest, funny and sweetest guy in our grade was Alex, he was diagnosed with Autism in our Elementary years, but no one ever seen him as mentally handicap he was everyone’s friend. In our high school, our aids and program were not very strong, and Mrs. Kingston knew that from day one. She then insisted on going the extra mile and getting help from therapist taking classes on how to better handle students with mental and physical delays. From there on out she worked with Alex every day even working with the parent on what they can do at home to help him with his IEP program which was not going well at all until Mrs. Kingston. It was our senior year, graduation day and Alex walked to grab his diploma, I can remember it like yesterday his smile was so big and his eyes filled with tears because he knew that he completed such a great accomplishment and without Mrs. Kingston going the extra mile and touching his life and many others, especially mine who knows where I would be. One thing that has touched me was she would always go the extra mile even if it wasn’t appreciated and I think that is the biggest lesson I have learned from her, being an advocate does not always have to be shown in such a big way.