“Self-Advocacy: Know yourself. Know what you need. Know how to get it”

-  Nancy Suzanne James Johnson

It is important to understand that advocacy always exists within an institutional power structure. This power structure impacts a student’s self advocacy. All of us, as educators, inherently hold the ability to grant or deny permission when students advocate for themselves. When working with students, it is important to be aware of the ways in which a student’s intersectionality impacts the outcomes of their advocacy. It is therefore important that educators examine our individual and collective biases from an Anti-Oppressive, Anti-Colonial, Anti-Racist, and Anti-Ableist lens. 

For more information, please refer to the following YRDSB documents: Anti-Oppressive Planning Framework,  Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy and the Indigenous Education and Equity Strategy, 

This resource can help educators and professionals equip students with the skills to communicate their strengths and needs, as well as the tools and strategies that best support them in their learning. Communicating how one’s strengths can be used to mitigate their areas of need and articulating how they can be best supported is crucial in pursuing opportunities in and out of school.  

When students understand how processing affects their learning, they are better able to advocate for themselves and build a sense of self-efficacy, mattering and well-being. When educators understand how processing affects learning, they are better able to provide precise, personalized and individualized programming for students.

While using this advocacy resource, it is important to engage in conversations around what advocacy looks like with students. Below are sample prompts meant to help students develop advocacy skills. 

Possible Prompts 

  • What is your experience with advocacy?

  • What does advocacy mean to you?

  • How are you most comfortable communicating?

  • How do you recognize that you need support?

  • With whom do you feel most comfortable expressing your need for help?

  • What are things educators can do to help support you in and outside of the classroom/school?

  • What are some things that make it difficult for you to ask for help?

  • What are some things that you do not find helpful?

  • How can you transfer these advocacy skills to other contexts outside of school?

Sample Advocacy Templates