You all know me - I am not a confrontational person at all. In the past, I have tried to avoid conflict because I hated feeling uncomfortable, hated putting others on the spot, and didn't want to speak up.
In short, I didn't really have a voice. I was not confident in myself, and thus, I stayed quiet. Except those who really, really knew me would I reveal a bit of what I was feeling.
College changed that, a little bit. I was able to develop self-confidence and find worth in the feelings that I had and the things I had to say. Grad school pushed me even further to open up and share my thoughts, and I was amazed when people thought that what I had to say was brilliant. I was encouraged by classmates and professors to share more. That was when I realized that maybe I was starting to develop a voice.
Now that I am a teacher, I'm realizing more and more how big a role I play in advocating for my students. I teach students who are deemed "low-performing" and "needing services." Some of the issues are language related, and some are not. I have been finding that when I hear others talking badly about my students, I get defensive inside. It's almost like a motherly instinct. I've realized that a big part of my job is pushing for my students to get the interventions that they need, and to deliver all that I have in my teaching to help them succeed. I am still learning how to use my voice when it is needed, and to not be afraid.
I was greatly encouraged this morning when an older teacher today told me, "I was so impressed that you had the courage to tell me my mistake, and I really appreciate that. You are such a fast learner!" Inside, I was laughing a bit - it took me forever to write that email, and I was so scared of what was going to happen! But for the sake of my students, I sent it anyway, and things worked out. :) Small victories everyday!