Teacher's Website - A Rhetorical Guide
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The Worth of a Teacher's Website

Every teacher searches for a different way to run and inspire a classroom. As technology advanced, the accessibility of technology - both in the classroom and in a person's homelife - has changed the way that schools are being run. No longer is it necessary for teachers to print of every assignment, or to hand out a plethora of papers that the students will end up losing and asking for copies. With advanced technologies, teachers are now able to create a teacher website to present their students with all the information that they will need - anything from homework to a class syllabus.

As a teacher begins their exploration into the use of rhetoric on an official teacher's website, the effectiveness of writing, design, and explanation will come into play. A teacher's website can be used for great good and effectiveness if the creator follows the rules of rhetoric. For more information about how websites and other digital writing can be used to help teachers, please visit Purpose.


Rhetoric Within a Teacher's Website

It goes without saying that Rhetoric is incredibly important in almost every aspect of life; from anything between giving a speech/presentation to writing a paper, Rhetoric is a tool that can be embellished to improve the quality and success of each piece of work. Yet when many people look to improve their work, the use of Rhetoric is a second thought. Meanwhile, those who choose to effectively use the Rhetoric in their work will see a higher effectiveness in their daily grind.

Rhetoric has a few main aspects that allow for more effectiveness and quality in an author's work:

  1. Ethos
  2. Pathos
  3. Logos

Each of these three aspects greatly influence the way that a speech, paper, or presentation is done and can be the difference between something great, and something mediocre. The three tools of Rhetoric (Ethos, Pathos, Logos) have specific functions and reasons for being a pivotal part of a Teacher's Website.


Ethos

In order to establish a strong connection with the students, it is very critical for the teacher to explain where their knowledge of the teaching material comes from. The ability to show the viewers your knowledge of the material will directly reflect their willingness to listen to you and your advice. There are many strategies that can be established in order to show your knowledge of the material.

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One of the best things that a Teacher could implement on their website is presenting personal details to the viewer that relate to their teaching field. The picture about is taken from a Davis High School teacher. This teacher put up a section that she titled: What I've Been Reading. By creating this type of page on her website, the teacher begins to build rapport with her students, to show that she is actively reading while being an English teacher. The building of rapport with her students will create a scenario where students are more willing to listen to her analysis on English papers, and will be more willing to take the assignments more seriously since she is allowing herself to appear well informed in literature.

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This is another fantastic example of how to implement Ethos into your website: The "About Me" page. The creation of the "About Me" page allows for the teacher to connect with the students, and to show the students their experience. In the example above, the teacher lists the Universities that he attended and the degrees that he obtained. The teacher then goes on to list all of the schools that he has taught at, and the years of experience. By putting down his information, students are able to see how experienced their professors are, and would be more prone to accepting his teaching methods. For the most part, the creation of the "About Me" page allows the teacher to make a connection to the students by "persuading the readers by appearing fair, balanced, and informed."[4] Following some of these ideas and steps will lead to a successful website. There are also ways that you could use strategies like this in the classroom.


Pathos

Teaching can be a tricky goal to tackle, especially if the class does not want to learn or is disinterested in the topic. With the proper guidance, a classroom can go from a boring place with no desire and can transform into an amusement park of knowledge and exploration. The ability to spark this interest within the classroom, and onto a teacher's website is through the use of Pathos.

The ability to evoke emotion into an audience to encourage action is what defines the ability to use Pathos. If used correctly, the proper wording of a website, or an exciting idea for a game can spark the tension among readers to further gain their knowledge. In one example of Pathos being used comes from an article about the Chicago Teacher's Strike that occured in 2012. The article states:

So says the Chicago teachers’ union as it finished a second day on the picket lines instead of the classroom.[5]

The article was against the teacher's strike that was going on, and one of the profound features that the article had was the ability to use language and cause to ignite a fire within the reader. As the author narrates the amount of days that the teacher's strike has been going on, the author takes a jab at the strike by stating they have been striking as opposed to being in a classroom. This brief statement fuels the reader, either in agreement or disagreement, to keep reading the article for either the author's good points or bad points (depending on personal opinion).

The use of Pathos can directly be linked within the use of a teacher's website. Within the website, a teacher is able to implement various tools in order to evoke emotion within the students to achieve. Some of these examples include giving a brief synopsis of an assignment, and assigning readings that have important significance to the applications of everyday life. As a teacher, you could also implement certain links and activities online that would lead both to further involvement, and fueling a students wanting to learn.

This website, Free Rice allows for many different uses that a teacher could emphasize. The website provides trivia in: English, Spanish, Math, Foreign Languages, etc. The point of the website? For each question that a person answers correctly, 10 grains of rice will be donated to end world hunger. If a teacher were to link this website onto their Teacher's Website, and were to give a heart-felt message of the importance of world hunger, students would be more passionately motivated to practice learning definitions (part of the Language section) and would be learning while contributing to a good cause.

Logos

Perhaps the most difficult form of Rhetoric to implement within a Teacher's Website is Logos. Logos, as it sounds, dictates to the logic behind both the structure and the argument that is being made. Using Logos properly and effectively can be the main difference between a well thought out assignment or site layout, or complete and utter chaos. A straight up example of a failed Logos is as followed:

For a good structure in an argument, a person must be able to lay out a good way to "introduce and conclude a text and draw connections among the parts of the text"[4]. When it comes to structure, Goodwin fails. In the Goodwin article, the reader witnesses the collapse of the logical structure. The article discusses all of the negative things about the teachers' strike stating that "the strike is so chock-full of nonsense that it's hard to know where to begin"[5]. However, the whole article does not follow this flow. The beginning of the article is designated to state the negative aspects behind the strike, and how the teachers' union is being selfish. However, the conclusion of the article does not follow this premise of the article. Rather than discussing how the teachers' strike affects the children or further emphasizing the demands on both sides of the argument, Goodwin states that "Chicago is thus a test case but we shouldn't expect much"[5]. The lead up to the ending of the article was trying to set up a foundation that would put emphasis on the wrong-doings of the teachers' union, and would also touch on the goals of the teachers' union. However, the ending - breaking away from the strong Rhetoric used to fire up the readers - simply suggests that everything that is occurring within the teachers' strike does not matter. By giving the conclusion that the strike does not matter, the reader is left pondering "well then why does writing this article about the strike matter given that the strike itself is insignificant?" The breaking away from the logical flow of the article causes the Goodwin article to lose credibility, and for the reader to leave with a sense of incompleteness.

The lack of Logos within the example shows the damage that can be caused. For a Teacher's Website, this could lead to the exact same case. One of the main aspects of a Teachers' Website is the page layout and the way that each webpage is connected. If a website lacks Logos in regards to the design of the website. If something within the website does not belong, or is given no reason to belonging there, it will cause question to the websites layout and will confuse the reader.

For example, the reader will be wondering why those two widgets are in the middle of this examination on Logos. The reader will see these to widgets and will immediately begin to question the creator: why would you put this here?, where is the rest of the paragraph?, what are these widget? Logos, in regards to implementing it within a Teacher's Website is to exam the logical flow of your page, and to make sure that the flow of your educational website matches the rest of the flow. A simple break in this flow could cause both major confusion and frustration for the reader.

Conclusion

The use of Rhetorical strategies is a key component to any successful website, article, journal, etc. By considering these strategies and the outcomes of each component of Rhetoric, a teacher will be able to further implement these strategies to create a fantastic Teacher's Website.

One of the best advantages of this being a wiki is the ability to share experiences and knowledge to further help. If there are any teachers out there who feel as though they have created a strong Teacher's Website, feel free to add your page and to give advice on how to create a better Teacher's Website. After all, the better the teacher's site, the better the opportunity for the students to learn.

Bibliography
4. Wilhoit, Stephen. "Chapter 7: Rhetorical Analysis." A Brief Guide To Writing From Readings. 5th ed. N.p.: University of Dayton, n.d. 122-24. Print.
5. Goodwin, Michael. "Chicago’s Striking Teachers Fail Us All." Fox News. FOX News Network, 12 Sept. 2012. Web. 17 Sept. 2012. <http://opinion.foxnews.mobi/quickPage.html?page=34606&content=79845478&pageNum=-1>.
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