In order to take action in meaningful ways, it’s important to spend time honing your message and your cut on the message. Think about your own contexts (i.e., small school with lots of teachers who think like you do; large school in which you feel like an outlier in you beliefs; supportive administrator; skeptical administrator, etc.), the audiences in those contexts with whom you might work or might want to reach (other teachers, administrators, parents, school board members, etc.), and the results you can imagine (a change in policy, a change of mind, etc.). This series of interrelated questions can help begin this work:
Step 1: Identifying The message
- What is your message?
- How can you cut or frame it to reach the people you need to reach?
- What is the context for your issue/message?
Step 2: Identifying the audience
- Who are the decision makers about your issue?
- Are those the decision makers the main audience? (i.e., are you trying to reach the decision makers? Or to reach others who can then reach the decision makers?)
- Is there a secondary audience that would be important to reach?
- Who are your allies in this work? Who are the opponents? The undecideds? Can some of those undecideds turn into allies? How will you need to shape your message to reach these various groups?
Step 3: Identifying the desired results
- What is the result you’re seeking? What are the long-term, intermediate, and short-term goals that you need to consider along the way?
- What are the tactics you can imagine using to make this happen? How does your context figure in?
- How will you know you’re successful?
- What is your timeline?
Answering these questions is step one in developing an Action Plan. An action plan, explained in more detail in the toolkit section, provides a specific path toward making change, keeping in mind the answers to these questions. An action plan helps you identify the strategies and tactics you’ll employ.