The following post is from Megan Allen, an NBCT and teacherpreneur at the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ). It was first posted on CTQ’s blog and is reposted with permission. This is post three of a three-part blog series.
We must know our audience. I’m not sure that the beach balls and the “Wiggles/Yo-Gabagaba” style dance number met the needs of a half-time show for a stadium full of charged up football fans. Just saying.
In our leadership work, we must think about our audience and frame our message appropriately based on the needs of that audience. Whether it’s writing an op ed, creating a robust system to support new teachers, or working with policy makers, we must always have our audience in mind. Sometimes dancing sharks don’t fit the bill.
Remember a good “formula” for message and advocating once we do know our audience is to combine research with emotions and story. I learned this lesson from a great colleague, Alesha Daughtery, as I was about to testify before Congress. She was working as my critical friend and giving me feedback via a phone call as I sat at an airport Chili’s in between flights (freaking out and feeling overwhelmed!). Her words still ring clear in my head: They don’t know your children, your students. Tell them who your students are, paint a picture of their faces. Show them who is sitting in your classroom.
We must show the faces of the students in our classrooms through our words.
We can follow the example of some great Super Bowl commercials when thinking of connecting to those heartstrings and laughter. I love this example, the Trunk Monkey (I can’t watch this one enough!). Laughter is priceless for so many things in life, and in helping others connect to our students, it can be key.
Lesson learned, thank you Super Bowl commercials. We must connect to our audience using emotions, through laughter or heartstrings. We must paint a picture of the beautiful faces that sit our classrooms. Then combine those stories with the research.
Megan M. Allen is the 2010 Florida Department of Education/Macy’s Teacher of the Year and one of four finalists for the 2010 National Teacher of the Year. She is a National Board Certified Teacher who has worked in several roles in educator, including 7 years as an elementary school and special education teacher in Title 1 schools, the educator-in-residence at the University of Central Florida, a teacherpreneur in a hybrid role with the Center for Teaching Quality, and a visiting instructor in Psychology and Education at Mount Holyoke College.
She is currently working as a program developer and visiting instructor for Mount Holyoke College’s Professional and Graduate Education Office, where she facilitates graduate students in learning about technology methods, science and math methods, and the changing role of a teacher. Follow her on twitter @Redhdteacher.