Launch Global Education
Sparks blog: Your Best Advocate

by Dr. Ann Wagner

It is always important to have people around you who can help you make good decisions, support you, and speak on your behalf. It is through the support of our family members, friends, classmates, colleagues, and trusted advisors that we thrive. Yet the one person that is most important to your success is—you!


You know who you are, and you know what you need. So, who better than you to speak for you? Self-advocacy comes more easily for some than others. Yet, it is important for everyone to learn the skills of speaking up for oneself and taking actions on one’s own behalf.

To begin, don’t assume that nothing can be done. Too often, students choose the path of acceptance of a less than ideal situation over trying to instigate change. It is important to question the status quo, even if you tend to agree with it.

Student standing in a classroom

In the classroom

Don’t understand a grade marking? Need some additional help? It is ok to seek assistance or clarification from a teacher. Ask when a good time would be, then articulate your need with clarity and politeness.

There are other ways to speak up for yourself beyond seeking answers to questions. Step up in group work. Take a leadership role. It is a good way to practice speaking up and putting yourself in a more active position.

family with arms around each other

Let your family take a supportive role

Sure, you will often seek family advice. However, it is important for you to take the lead as a maturing young adult. Most of the time you can get what you need through your own actions. Remember, in the near future you will not be able to rely on your parents and other family members to solve your issues.

In your professional life

Are you looking to advance your position? Would you like to play an integral part in that new project? When you start working, take time to sit down with your team leader and share your career goals.  And volunteer early and often.  When you step forward, you show that you are a collaborator.

confident student

Too often we speak up only when things have become intolerable for us. It is easy to think that’s just the way it is. However, being proactive in small ways can make us feel better and more in control of our lives.  And small successes lead to bigger and better outcomes down the line.

So, advocate for yourself. Yay you!

Dr. Ann Wagner

Ann Wagner, EdD is a founder and the Vision Engineer for Launch Education.  Dr. Wagner has led international schools around the world and currently teaches at the university level, working with educators earning their master's degrees.