Think Long Term; Celebrate Short Term

think-long-term_-celebrate-short-termWhile many of us would like to wave our magic wands and transform literacy education right away, one of the most important lessons of advocacy work is that change takes time. Those big goals we’ve set for ourselves–the goals that seem to define true change–are as important to keep in mind as what we hope to achieve in the long term. But basing our success at advocacy solely on these long-term goals can lead us to feeling discouraged and frustrated. In
part, it’s because these goals are often a little too lofty (“getting rid of standardized testing” or “having teachers treated with more respect”), noble aims, for sure, but not really within our power as a teacher or group of teachers.

So, what can we do?

Step One. Articulate a clear and achievable long-term goal 

  •     What do you want to accomplish?
  •     What can you accomplish?
  •     What would change look like?

Be honest about what you think you can achieve in your particular context, especially given that full time job you have as a teacher.

Step Two. Work backward from that goal

  •  What might be the short-term and intermediate goals that would help you gather momentum in order to reach that long-term goal?
  •  How might you build awareness about the goal?
  •  Who might be an ally to join you in this work?

Thinking of your advocacy work as a journey, as a means toward an end and not as an end in itself can lead you to celebrating the short term goals and seeing them as concrete ways to reach the larger goals.

Step Three. Set up your journey as a win-win situation

We have choices when we do this work, and we have the power to determine what constitutes success.  Each time we succeed in a goal, we gain confidence to move on to the next one.

Read about what others have done to think long term but celebrate the short term by clicking on the links below.

  • Kris Gedeon set a long-term goal of changing how reading is viewed in her school and school community, creating a buzz about books and encouraging life-long readers.
  • Barbara McKinnon’s long-term goal is to shift  the conversation in her elementary school from an overwhelming focus on test scores to a consideration of how to help students become better citizens who exhibit traits like persistence, responsibility, flexibility, curiosity, openness, engagement, and creativity.
  • Cheryl Plouffe‘s long-term goal is to change minds about the community and its assets and the role of community members in helping teens rethink their potential and future.

Read More: Discover Who’s in Charge