I had the privilege of joining Michigan Educator Voice Fellowship and attending their convening last week. I wasn’t 100% sure what I was getting into, but I really enjoyed the two days. As it turns out the purpose of this organization is to support teacher leaders and to amplify their voices. Pretty cool! The best part was meeting and connecting with other leaders from across the state of Michigan.
My favorite part of the convening was a session on creating pitches to use when talking to state legislators. Creating a short, powerful pitch is not something that they teach you in pre-service education or anywhere in education that I have seen. I loved the emphasis on stories that connect people to your message. I struggled a bit with the initial hook part, but after seeing an example from Melody Arabo it quickly came to me. We practiced our pitches taking them from two minutes down to fifteen seconds.
As I reflect on the importance of a good pitch, I see it as a vital skill that teachers should use all of the time. We should be “pitching” the new projects to students with great entry events tied to a story. We should use pitches to parents to help them understand how our classes are different from the school they went to and why. Having a pitch to share a new idea with colleagues, administrators, and school boards could be very effective to gain consensus. We should be able to pitch our class projects to local business and community partners to motivate their involvement and support.
Sometimes educators feel they need to be humble and servant like and pitching feels dirty to them. The truth is that teachers need to stand up and speak out for what is best in the classroom and for their kids. Pitching shouldn’t be about promoting yourself but about promoting your students’ work and about the best kind of schools that we can create. When considered in that light, one can be humble and pitch important ideas at the same time. I would go for far as to say that we have an obligation to start pitching positive stories about education to change the negative stereotypes in this country.