In any environment students find themselves in, there’s a need for students to feel valued and accepted. In the case where they feel underappreciated or unheard, its important they know that one, that’s not okay and two, they have the right to advocate for themselves. Self-advocacy involves the idea that any individual has the ability to speak on behalf of themselves and their desires. This type of skill and confidence is important for any student wanting to gain a sense of independence. Standing up for yourself and your associated beliefs will also not go astray after school in the workforce or the pathway your student decides to take.
To advocate for themselves, students need to gain an understanding of their own personal strengths, weaknesses and needs in all environments. Whether it be at work or school, at home or in a social setting, there are certain qualities that each individual can offer and there are others they need to be aware of. Having an awareness of when to contribute or when to listen is effective in being an active member of any conversation. This knowledge will assist students in knowing when the time is right to speak up and advocate for themselves.
We’re all going to fail. Even the best of the best in any field have failed or encountered setbacks. It’s never something to be ashamed of, in fact it’s something to celebrate. If students feel challenged or stuck, encourage them to speak up and ask for help. Self-advocacy doesn’t have to be centred around the individual and their emotions. In this case, it could be advocating for their education or a better standard of education. Situations like this will also contribute to students’ strengths and weaknesses when they discover what they need to do more of to overcome the challenge or how to improve for next time.
Confidence and standing up go hand in hand. Having the confidence and strength in your emotions, needs and the standard to which students as both an individual and as a student should be treated, are inherent to their confidence in and outside of the classroom. Backing themselves and their ideologies leads to success by way of perseverance and a sense of belief in their achievements and strengths.
Standing up for yourself takes time. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the confidence every day to tackle the adversities and imbalances we may experience and disagree with. But it’s important to remind your students and yourself for that matter, that self-advocacy develops over time. As you get to know yourself and the strengths and weaknesses that come with that identity, the confidence will come.