Who is the audience?
As composition teachers, we teach our students audience. How to identify your audience. What are their assumptions that you can use to convince them? How do you focus your writing to that audience? Teaching audience is teaching me to pay attention in ways that I haven’t.
When I got to work this morning, I entered the keyed parking lot to find a space that was close to the building. As I swung around the circle in my car, I thought on how the best parking places were already taken. OMG! Is this playing to the audience, showing the job’s importance is such that the day cannot be started too early? Does that fact that I was early enough to get a space show me in a positive light—with good ethos? (Of course, I’m ignoring the fact that we just might be lazy.)
Keeping to the idea of audience, when we get in front of a classroom, to which audience do we play? Our higher ups? Showing that we are on time, we are in front of our students, we are lecturing, and we are grading? Do we play to other teachers? Showing our rigidity to the canon of teaching, our strictness in grading grammar, our students’ output in volumes of writing, and our dedication to spending hours in developing lesson plans and grading? As teachers, what audience should we focus on?
The students, of course, but we spend so much time at the front of the room giving our credentials to the students to emphasize the value that they are paying for. How much time do we actually spend teaching? Anything can be pitched to a specified audience. How many of us take the time to develop materials that will appeal more to the students than the administration or other teachers? I am not saying that this is wrong. We must keep the job, and we must gain the respect of our community, but I want to teach because I want to learn. Teaching is my excuse for learning new things.
In thinking about my audience, a flash of things, devices come to mind:
- The one thing that all students are looking for is themselves. Just having come into adulthood, they are trying to figure out where they fit into society without the restraints of having it chosen for them. They want to know that the position in society where they are headed is their choice, not that of others. Many of them, not having much in the way of life experiences, do not know how to express what they want or don’t want; therefore, I thought about using images from the web to allow them to create an image of who they are as they see themselves. Programs such as Glogster or Word could be used. Once they create a self portrait, have them create a portrait of how their parents see them, and a portrait of how their friends see them. I would then ask them to explain the differences between the images and what remains true in them. What remains true should be a true reflection of their natural leanings.
- I could then have them write an application letter to their dream job. Is the letter geared to getting the job, or is it a statement of what they want from the job? What is their ideal job and why. The next exercise would present three examples of application letters (gained from other class sections). Students must chose who they would or would not hire for an executive position in their own company and who they would not. For what positions would they hire the other applicants?
- I would have students create a blog. In reading other blogs, they would write about what attracts them to that blog and what does not. Reflecting on why those things attract them, they would have to apply it to their own blog. Next question for them would be whom do they wish to attract and why? After reading blogs of those people they wish to attract, they would again apply it to their own blog. Through doing this, I can show how the media uses the same devices to target specific audiences.
- Another way to go, would be to have them use an aggregator to bring articles of interest to them so that they can blog on them. Additionally, they can be shown how to market their blog to gain responses/feedback.
- What can I do for citations? A contest of some type? Make a game where they cannot move forward unless they identify certain characteristics needed for the citation and show it? Individual competitions or group? Jeopardy? Timed group competitions? What would be the prize? What other detested items could I apply this to? Grammar? Sentence Structure? (Create a compound sentence with a dependent clause, then, reduce it down to one?)
These are just a few thoughts that I didn’t want to lose before I started my next task.