PMP311: Politics and Advocacy for School Leaders with Jen Schwanke

In this week’s episode, Will Parker and Jen Schwanke share some thoughts on how to remain focused on service to your school communities while also remaining aware of what is happening in politics and advocacy that may also be affecting your school.

In this week’s episode, Will Parker and Jen Schwanke share some thoughts on how to remain focused on service to your school communities while also remaining aware of what is happening in politics and advocacy that may also be affecting your school.

Will references the following book as a resource for understanding the difference between old power structures and new power structures in the ways people are communicating and advocating: New Power: How Anyone Can Persuade, Mobilize, and Succeed in Our Chaotic, Connected Age by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms.

A survey by NASSP’s Survey of America’s School Leaders and High School Students details that “the majority of school leaders (70%) and students (51%) report they have personally been threatened or attacked, physically or verbally during the past year…3 out of 4 of school leaders (73%) and students (74%) report they needed help with their mental or emotional health last year.”

Ideas for tackling politics and advocacy while staying focused on students from Will & Jen:

  • As a school leader you need to know where what matters and where you have influence intersects.
  • Do you have power and control over an issue? What actions are going to lead to the best outcomes?
  • Don’t create crises where they don’t exist and don’t respond to someone else’s crises.
  • When feeling overwhelmed by political and social issues, ask yourself what is it that you can do today that aligns with your goal as a teacher/leader?
  • Remember that historically, none of this is new. Whenever society is in unrest, the population turns to schools to push their issues. Don’t let the push for political change influence the way that you interact with students.
  • Draw boundaries when having conversations that are uncomfortable or rude.
  • How do we recognize the positives of old and new power structures within schools?
  • Advocate for schools with one hand and be the champion for your school with the other. Remind people why schools are such a great place.

Resources for school leaders mentioned by Will:

Now it’s Your Turn

Reflect on the suggestions Will and Jen made for school leaders in regard to staying involved in politics and advocacy, while still making students a priority. What would you add to the conversation?

Think someone else would benefit from this episode?
William D. Parker
William D. Parker
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