Part 3: What do Tom Brady, dancing sharks, and teacher leadership have in common?

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.

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