Session Summary: Telling Your Story

Norm Wooten, Director of Advocacy, AASB

This session brought together information imparted during Saturday’s communication-focused presentations, Sunday’s legislative content and bill review sessions, to assist attendees in crafting impactful presentations for their meetings with legislators.

During the week following the Leadership & Legislative Academy, AASB set up Zoom meetings between school boards and legislators. The meetings were organized so that all districts would have an opportunity to speak to the Senators and Representatives who represent them.

To prepare boards for these virtual meetings with legislators, Wooten guided board members through a series of effective advocacy techniques for conveying district successes and challenges. He suggested using the following guidelines for crafting a message:

Tell Your Story

  • Your story should be 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Recommend that your story should have no more than 5 bullet points.
  • Begin your story with the “ask” and end your story with the “ask”. 
  • Your story should contain why and how it will benefit students in your school district.

Your Story in a Pandemic

  • You will be in a Zoom meeting with other districts. Respect their time to speak. 
  • When you enter the Zoom meeting rename yourself and identify your school district.
  • “Shorter” is better than “longer”.
  • We strongly encourage you and your colleagues to participate. This may be your only opportunity to interact with legislators.
  • This is NOT a legislative committee meeting – it is a meeting with legislators, just as in  normal times you might make an appointment.
  • Therefore, it is not necessary to comply with committee protocols (i.e. speaking through the chair).
  • Norm will facilitate the meeting – not to control – but rather to expedite and allow all to speak

Creating Your Story

  • You have several sources of data to create your story:
  • AASB’s Legislative Priorities enacted by the Delegate Assembly and approved by the BOD.
  • Discussions that will occur in the like-size forums this afternoon.
  • Any resolutions or goals enacted by your local school board.

AASB Legislative Priorities

  • Resolutions submitted by school districts
  • Resolutions debated, amended adopted by the Delegate Assembly
  • Adopted resolutions debated and prioritized by “like-size” district forums
  • Final prioritization adopted by Board of Directors

Student Wellness & Safe Schools

  • Priorities, efforts & funding to support and promote student wellness & safety

Address the impacts of the pandemic on student wellness (physical and mental)

  • Support student mental health and the required services
  • Support safe, connected schools
  • Support trauma informed practices in Alaska schools
  • Prevent sexual abuse by school staff through appropriate professional boundaries policy and training
  • Reduce school and student violence

Internet Connectivity & Distance Delivery

Provide equitable opportunity for students across the state to access learning & content as a part of their education experiences

  • Fully fund E-rate so that schools have the necessary connectivity
  • Investing in Alaska broadband infrastructure for equitable access everywhere
  • Alaska relevant and appropriate distance delivered curriculum and instruction
  • Locally adapted and school board approved curriculum
  • Provide appropriate professional development for distance delivered instruction
  • Develop equity in providing distance delivered, instructional opportunities

Literacy as A Fundamental Human Right

  • Funding and support for focus on early childhood literacy skills development
  • Working towards literacy proficiency by the third grade
  • Investing in higher graduation rates and a more literate populous
  • Through literacy proficiency create educational equity
  • Recognize literacy as a fundamental human right

Teacher & Administrator Training, Recruitment and Retention

Through multiple approaches increase the retention, recruitment and training of highly effective teachers and administrators

  • Reduce the extremely high rates of teacher and administrator turnover
  • Provide resources for a robust teacher-mentor program
  • Provide and fund more competitive retirement benefits
  • Invest in effective professional development of teachers and administrators
  • Work with partners and the University of Alaska to improve and develop a teacher training program focused on growing teachers and administrators from Alaska

In Conclusion

  • Attend the scheduled meeting with your legislators
  • Be prepared with your story
  • Share the floor with your colleagues from other districts
  • Respect the legislators and thank them for meeting with you
  • Thank you for attending and advocating for your students.

Following Wooten’s presentation, board members and superintendents gathered in Like Size District Forums to discuss priorities, craft presentations, and prepare to tell their stories to Senators and Representatives at virtual legislative meetings AASB had arranged throughout the following week. They were joined in the forum discussions by students attending AASB’s concurrent event, the Youth Leadership Institute (YAI).

A “Coming Together” session facilitated by Lon Garrison and Jenni Lefing followed the Like Size District Forums. Districts shared their discussion notes and a set of common priorities was crafted. These priorities were condensed into a set of 2021 Legislative Talking Points that formed the framework for district presentations to their legislators.

Link to 2021 Legislative Talking Points

Link to 2021 AASB Legislative Priorities