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Teacher Chat: Donalyn Miller on Everyday Advocacy

Donalyn Miller is a former classroom teacher who has made a career advocating for books, teachers, readers, and reading. She’s written extensively on these topics in books including The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild, and she’s the co-founder of The Nerdy Book Club Blog which builds community around book knowledge and reading joy.

In this teacher chat, Donalyn sat down with Everyday Advocacy’s Jennifer Buehler to talk about how advocacy plays a role in her current work and how teachers can use the skills of everyday advocacy in their daily lives by asking questions, saying no, and elevating the voices of students. You can watch the video and read an excerpt below, and you can find out more about Donalyn here.

"I think there are things we can do that may not be a single moment in time of advocacy… it’s a relentless effort in multiple directions with many resources. It’s what we do everyday in small ways.”

Jennifer: I wonder what lessons or applications you might have for teachers who similarly may be having their book lists vetted, their curriculum scrutinized, their classroom libraries surveilled. I know there is no easy answer to that question, but do you think there are parallels or takeaways for teachers as they face similar challenges in their own work?

Donalyn: “No” isn’t always easy. Questions are easier. How have these resources been selected for our students? What criteria is being used to generate this list? Who are the people and parties involved in its creations? How are community voices and student voices being included in the process? What is our districts’ book selection policy? These kind of questions that a teacher and community can certainly ask can reveal if we disagree on almost a moral level with decisions that are being made. Asking those questions requires the people we are asking to justify why it is being done, and I find that is often not possible. So we can ask questions.

If you or someone you know may be interested in sharing a Teacher Story or joining us for a Teacher Chat about the day-to-day work of everyday advocacy, please contact us.


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