All Politics Are Local

Last week I had coffee with my local senator.  Okay, to be fair, I had water but nonetheless, we sat down and met for an extended time.  I walked away better understanding her position on issues of interest to me and I hope she felt the same.  

It all began with a fifteen minute meeting.  I scheduled a meeting with my senator in her office on Presidents Day. It was a busy day, lobbyists filled the hill, and sev
eral bills were being heard.  She squeezed me in at 8:45.  Our meeting was short but she offered to meet a few days later when she was in her home district.  I was grateful she was willing to extend her personal time and I took her up on that offer.

Five days later I was at her house talking one on one about everything from meeting the teaching shortage to TRI (time, responsibility, incentive) pay.  We even discussed the elephant in the room- education funding.  Here’s the thing- I felt heard.  I felt engaged.  I felt powerful.  I felt like I was able to share my experience as a teacher leader with my senator and I believe that she understood my work and passion.   Most importantly, I told her about my kids: 100 students and 2 biological.  We discussed assessment, CTE and Running Start, and the real trauma faced by students every day.  And when the meeting was over, I didn’t feel dismissed. Instead I felt like I’d built a bridge.

Being a teacher and a coach, I build infrastructure all day long.  I scaffold learning for my students.  I help teachers seek out new ideas and create new platforms so they can dive into deeper learning.  Yet, it didn’t occur to me until recently to build a bridge.  Perhaps that’s what my work is now.  I’m an engineer–creating bridges between my classroom and my state policymakers.

3 thoughts on “All Politics Are Local

  1. Jan Kragen

    Last week I got a call during class. Imagine my surprise when I found myself talking with the aide to my state congressman!

    I had sent a thank you letter for his stand on immigration, and he had his aide reach out to me, not just to acknowledge my note, but to ask if there were any other issues I felt strongly about. What an opening!

    My class listened wide-eyed as I advocated for education–and gifted education in particular. They burst into applause when I hung up the phone.

    I told them, Here is a way to speak to people in power. Say thank you first. Make a positive contact first. Sit in the front row of the Town Hall meeting and smile–you will be memorable! After you build relationships, you can be a more effective advocate for the issues you care about.

    Reply
  2. Shari Conditt

    Jan,

    That is great news. What a welcome surprise! Much like our work with students, relationship building is key to accomplishing great success.

    Reply

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