If you have trouble viewing the archive of the chat, you can view the entire Storify archive here.

Typically each week’s chat archive is posted with just a quick introduction. Not this week. The topic is too important to be posted without an appeal. This week’s chat explored a topic that touches upon many educators’ sense of control over their educational settings. Often we feel that we are voiceless in many policy decisions that come from Federal and State governments. And the reality is that it’s mostly true. I say mostly, because a great majority of citizens are not connected to the right “movers”, “shakers”, and other interests that help shape education policy at the state and federal level. Chances are, we’ve thrown our support behind one political party or the other, and if our party isn’t in control, then we feel helpless, even from a standpoint of just being a cheerleader for our cause.

And that’s a shame. Because the appeal I want to make is one to connect and influence locally. Despite which party’s agenda is pushing policy, there are still several important policy decisions to be made at the local level; decisions that can and should be influenced from voices in the community through Board of Education meetings, school-sponsored community outreach events, or just inviting locally elected representatives into your classroom as a guest reader or to help on a regular basis with small projects. There is no limit to what we can do by thinking globally, but acting locally. Just two years ago, a dozen individuals sat in a small conference room talking about what we could do to change the conversation about education in Michigan, and facilitate conversation amongst educators in our state. That group was the start of the #michED chat movement. We’ve grown into a community of educators from around the state (and then some), connecting thoughts and ideas from all corners of Michigan. All because we dared to start small….with a weekly chat on Twitter, for just 60 minutes.

What could you change if you turned opportunities to vent into opportunities to invite local officials into your classroom once a month? Who could you influence by arranging one or two visits by your classroom and students to a city council meetings to show off a great service-learning project? How could you make a difference by acting on one small idea, working towards positive change, and carrying out that simple act every month, week, or day?

Your voice matters #michED. Your ideas matter. Your students, your schools, and your communities matter. When you’ve had the time to express the frustration, the heartache, the complete helplessness that we all experience (which I understand is important), how do you start to nurture and grow an idea that is not political, not divisive, but inclusive, and connected with those in your community?

The rest of this post is an archive of this week’s chat educational policy; the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly.

A chat about policy decisions; where they’re made, why they’re made, and what we can do to effect positive change at all levels of education policy making. From local to state, all of us can play a role to craft better policies and programs.

Moderated by Todd Bloch