Knowing your audience in Education

By Nelly Lavaud

Nelly, Haitian born and Brooklyn raised is a NYC special educator, activist, wife and soon to be mom. She is a graduate of Brooklyn College and Long Island University and has also been present on education panels and sponsors clubs at her high school for her students. She's an avid reader, a fan of the show This Is Us, and is a lover of all things Starbucks-- she has been going through withdrawal while she waits for the arrival of her daughter. She misses her daily coffee a latte!

         It’s May! Can you believe it? No, seriously where did the time go? Just a couple of months ago I was standing in front of the classroom introducing myself to my English classes, but now it’s almost time to say goodbye. It’s that time of the year again, that time when things are winding down and the end of the school year is on the horizon. I can’t say that this year has gone any faster than any other school year but it definitely has flown by. I am excited to see what the end of the school year brings, I am looking forward to taking a break from the every day struggles of working with my students to try and close that horrible “achievement gap.” 

            Every educator knows that at the beginning of every year their goal is to try and get their students to those benchmarks to make that gap seem smaller. Many of our students make those benchmarks and help ease the burden of the constant reminder of closing the gap, while many others don’t come close.  It’s tough on many teachers when they try to help students make those benchmarks. Many students come into our classroom with reading and math levels far below our grade area and we are challenged with helping this child make leaps and bounds in a specific amount of time.  I do agree that teachers are magical human beings, but achieving goals like having a student come into your 11th grade classroom jump from a 3rd grade reading level to a 10th grade reading level is nothing short of a miracle. But, that’s not what this post is about; we can talk about that another time. The title of this post is about knowing your audience in education. A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine posted this as his status on Facebook.  

Colleague: This kid is as dumb as dishwater. 
My Friend: I think what you're saying is that this teacher has not been trained to deal with all learners, especially language learners and students with disabilities. Right? 
Colleague: No, I'm saying this child is dumb. 
My Friend: I really think what you're saying is that the system is not equipped to deal with students of color with learning obstacles and challenges. Right?
Colleague: Stop trying to correct me. Don't you understand what I'm saying?
 My Friend: No. You’re speaking out of you’re a**and I'm a language learner and can't understand. 
Colleague: blank stare

The biggest disability for some is their so-called privilege.

There are some people in education who do NOT belong. They are there with titles of coaches, mentors, liaisons, etc. and they have no clue about what it takes to be an educator. My friends’ interaction with this person isn’t the first that I’ve heard where they talk down about the children, or about the teacher without thinking.  When in a room with various types of educators its best to err on the side of caution when talking about instruction and student advancement. People who were never educators do not have the right to talk down about what teachers are doing or how a child is learning. If you have never taught please refrain from your input of how a classroom should be ran even with your title of coach, or mentor, etc. Know the audience that you’re interacting with. Know that there are some teachers who struggle with instruction or even management, but that does not mean that they are horrible teachers. Know that there are students who do not learn like others and may take some time to pick up on things that may seem simple to other students. Refrain from passing judgment and saying things that have NO merit especially if you’re NOT in the classroom. Know the audience that you’re with when talking to educators.  We are dedicated to our craft; we are moved by our students to help them make a change in this world. Do not, I repeat do NOT go into a room of educators and talk down to them or about their students. Know who you’re talking to, and what you’re talking about.