Unfortunately, many advocacy efforts have little effect, so it’s important to make every step count as much as possible.
In this post I will explain how I help families write advocacy emails at the beginning of the school year. This is mainly for elementary through high school but can be applied to college students as well (see end of video, go to min. 9).
How to write the email:
Note: These are just my recommendations. Take what you like and leave the rest.
1. In your email program, create a “GROUP” of relevant contacts who are involved with helping your student. This may include relevant teachers, counselors, school support staff, admin, and any private therapists you may be working with. Call the group “TEAM JOHNNY” (yes, fill in the appropriate name). You can use this group for the entire year to make sure relevant communications go to all parties, that they are on the same page.
2. Make the headline in all caps, and write: IMPORTANT: JOHNNY JONES This increases the likelihood that it will be read carefully and makes it easier for staff to locate visually as they go through their inbox.
3. Add a photo if possible so they know who your child is. Remember, teachers have a lot of students to get to know.
4. Start by sharing something you are genuinely appreciative of.
5. Use bullets or other CRYSTAL CLEAR formatting that is EASY to read.
6. End with EASY ways to get in touch with you.
7. Resend it 1 week later, 1 or 2 weeks after that, and 2 weeks after that (4 times total). If teachers are not supporting your student properly, get in there and advocate in person asap!
8. Always trust your gut.
(Headline) IMPORTANT: JOHNNY JONES
Aug 9, 2014
Quick and important note. Please read entire email!
My name is ____ and my child is ____.
First, I want to thank you for all you do for our kids. I know this is an incredibly busy time of year and I appreciate you taking a minute to soak this in. It will help you help meet my child’s needs.
Here are the 3 most important things you need to know about Johnny:
1. PREFERENTIAL SEATING: Johnny needs to sit in a place with minimal auditory distractions while sitting close to where you teach from most often.
2. EXTENDED TIME: Johnny processes information in a unique way. (explain). When appropriate, he needs extended time. Here is how it works best for him…
3. ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT: Due to executive function issues such as… Johnny benefits from…
Again, I know you are busy so I will follow up with you next week to make sure his needs are met and to see how I can support you.
Thanks for your time and energy,
Do not hesitate to contact me for any reason:
Cell- 303-333-3333 (call or text)
(You can also add relevant background or refer to documentation when it’s helpful.)