Core Idea #3: Taking Action

taking-actionHow do we move from sharing our stories (Core Idea 1) to identifying and framing our issues (Core Idea 2) to actually creating change? This core idea of taking action immerses us in the worlds of community organizing, especially as adapted from the work of  the Midwest Academy,  Beautiful Trouble, and other organizing groups.  And even though, as teachers we’re not full-time organizers, we can take a lot from this core idea.

At its center, taking action means moving from the casual “I wish I could change how x is done in my school” to a specific path to create change. Creating a kind of action plan is so vital  because too many of us (including me!) go straight to tactics without thinking about an overall plan.  And so, we write letters to congressmen, keep a blog, or testify at a school board meeting—without always considering these tactics as part of a larger plan.  And while there is certainly nothing wrong with these tactics—in fact these tactics can be really useful parts of an action plan—when they are done in an isolated way, they may not be as useful as we hope.  The result sometimes is a feeling of dismay on the part of teachers:  “Well, I wrote to my congressman and nothing happened” or “I testified in front of the State Board of Education and no one listened.”

What should we think about as we create action plans?

  • What is my framed issue?
  • Who am I trying to reach with that message?  (decision makers? those who might influence decision makers?)  What action do I want them to take as a result of my work?
  • What results am I seeking?  What are the short term, intermediate, and long term results that might occur along the way.
  • What tactics will help me achieve those results?

You’ll learn how to do this kind of action work as you move through this website.  For now, just remember that there are strategies and skills that you can learn and that lots of teachers are learning on the road to action.

If you want to learn more about how to introduce teachers to these ideas, read In Practice: Taking Action.