Close your eyes. Picture a teacher. Now be honest, what do you see? Our perception of teaching is based on so many things. Memories from kindergarten. Our favorite teachers. Stuff we hear on the news. But there’s one thing it’s not based on — the whole truth.
Our agency, mcgarrybowen, was given a monumental challenge. Take teaching, a profession so often associated with words like uninspiring and underpaid, and repackage it to show how far teaching has come. Not only were we trying to revitalize the perception of teaching, we needed to convince the brightest students from around the country that teaching was for them. But in order to change millions of minds, we had to first overcome our own stereotypes. That part was easy.
As we looked further into what it means to be a teacher today, we discovered countless examples of inspirational teachers using their unique skills to connect with classes and motivate kids. One teacher used a GPS and a chicken to teach his kids about geometry. Another made physics fun by incorporating Angry Birds into the lesson plan. We heard stories of teachers traveling to the Arctic to conduct research. Writing raps to keep kids engaged. We realized unique and innovative things were happening in schools all across the country and the concept for the campaign was born.
The idea was simple. Let’s use advertising as a means to show people what’s really happening in teaching today. We wanted to portray teachers as heroic, energetic, and inspirational, similar to the way sports advertising portrays young athletes. Many of the actors we casted had taught before and had fond memories of great teachers from their early years. Their passion for the profession came across naturally in their performances. We recreated many of the most innovative teaching examples, and found a powerful voiceover talent who is not only a teacher himself, but a strong advocate for the profession. We ended up with a fully integrated campaign consisting of TV, radio, print and digital executions.
The team at mcgarrybowen is extremely proud of the finished campaign, not only of the work, but of the tireless collaboration between different partners, all with a single-minded focus and a passion for reenergizing a profession that deserves much more consideration than it receives. Our hope is that the kids graduating today will begin to see teaching as a viable career choice. Not just a “safety” profession, but one that will give them space to fulfill all their professional goals while allowing them to have a positive impact on the world around them. And to everyone else: maybe it’s time to let go of outdated stereotypes and uninformed perceptions. Wooden rulers and dusty chalkboards have no place in teaching today. With an open mind and a little research you can see that teaching is undergoing a major transformation. It will force you to change your opinion, maybe even make teaching a consideration, just like it forced us to do.