Self-advocacy is a multifaceted trait that can be built with practice. It includes students' ability to speak up for themselves, make their own decisions, pursue solutions without handholding, and adjust their strategy based on feedback. Eduardo Polón, the Upper School Global Languages Department Head at Sandy Spring Friends School (SSFS), describes self-advocacy as “the action of representing oneself or one’s views or interests.
At its core,” Polón adds, “It’s about establishing one’s independence. As an educator, I prefer to promote a more collaborative take, one that sees self-advocacy as an individual’s responsibility, not only to engage, contribute, initiate, participate, and commit, but also to listen and consider in search of what better might look like.”
At the Maryland independent school serving students in preschool through grade twelve, faculty and staff strive to integrate the tenets of self-advocacy into the daily flow. “Because of the school’s Quaker morals, I am on an even playing field with peers, teachers, administrators, and even students much younger than me,” says student Joce Motley, a senior at the day and boarding school. “Because of this, my voice is not only respected but listened to. Being in such an environment allows me to be comfortable with speaking up for myself and made me realized that it is always beneficial to do so.”
But self-advocacy doesn’t stop or end in the classroom. As a student matures into an adult, self-advocacy is one of the most essential attributes of success. How can even the most reserved students cultivate their own sense of self-advocacy on a holistic, lifetime level?
Here are five fundamentals:
How vital is self-advocacy?
What are the advantages of developing their skills?
What's at stake when children do not learn them?
Becoming a good self-advocate is a worthy endeavor to improve yourself and become a changemaker in the world around you. Without building self-advocacy skills, there's a risk that its alter egos—learned helplessness and selfishness—will emerge.
In a recent episode of Sandy Spring Friends School’s podcast, Gnu Stories, Head of School Dr. Rodney Glasgow unpacks these questions with members of the School’s faculty. What is often overlooked is self-advocacy’s alter egos:"learned-helplessness and selfishness." Dr. Glasgow and his guests surmise that it was the alter egos at work that may have played a role in the U.S. Capitol insurgency
Do you feel self-advocacy is an important skill?
How do you teach self-advocacy in your school or home?
We would enjoy hearing from you!
Rochambeau The French International Maternelle School - Bradley
7108 Bradley Blvd, Bethesda, MD 20817, USA