Angela Gardner, OFLA Public Relations and Advocacy Chair
Spanish Teacher, Ross High School
Just as every lesson has one or more objectives to guide it, conversations and written correspondence with our representatives have objectives, often referred to as an “ask.” As our lesson objectives may align to state or national standards, similarly, it helps our representatives understand our requests when we are specific in terms of legislation that we want to see changed, supported, or ***denied***.
Here are a few tips to help you if you choose to write or talk with representatives to help keep the conversation on track and to be as efficient and productive as possible:
Tip #1: Ask first. When you write to or begin a conversation with a representative, lean right in with what you want them to do, so they don’t have to play a guessing game. You can say something like “I’m really concerned about ____(issue). I’d like to ask you to vote against the legislation in ___(Bill) because it ___(reason).”
Tip #2: Get personal. Let your representative know who you are! You might let them know that you are an educator, or a language enthusiast, for example. You might let them know if you are a parent of young children or active in volunteering in your community, or offer other information that the representative may find relevant in seeing you as an expert or at least someone who has good reasons to be concerned about the impact of the legislative decisions. Showing such sincerity and authenticity can go a long way!
Tip #3: Share the WHY. Share research, data, or expert quotes that support your position on the issue you are writing or talking about. If you’re talking in person with your representative, you will benefit from having these items on-hand to refer to and guide the conversation and to leave behind with the representative to reflect on.
Tip #4: Follow up. Even if you don’t get a commitment right away from your representative, you can send a brief thank-you note for their time, as well as notes to commend them if they take action that matches with your requests.
Remember, our representatives are people, too! By following these tips, you can communicate clearly and effectively with them and maximize the results of your interactions with representatives and their staffers.
Keep carrying the torch and lighting a fire for a lifetime of language learning! Shine on!