One teacher called it "apple crapple" — that shiny red symbol that has so long been associated with the virtues of teaching. But blackboards, apples and pencils no longer represent the role teachers play in society nor do these images give teaching the same revered perception as other professions. What if we were to "re-brand" the teaching profession?
Is it possible to bring creativity, vibrancy and innovative thinking to the idea of what teachers do? Kate Ahern of Haverhill, Mass. wrote to public radio show Studio 360 begging for an overhaul of teacher rebranding.
"Teaching isn't, and hasn't been, about chalkboards, apples, abc's and 123's or summer off for many, many years," she wrote. "We don't all wear horrible primary colored cardigan's with alphabet blocks on them. We are highly educated, in many states, including mine, a teacher must have a dual degree in their area of specialty and teaching - plus a master's degree... Part of the reason why we can be scapegoated and thrown under the truck so easily is our branding is atrocious."
Studio 360 asked Hyperakt, a New York City design firm, to take a whack at it--and what they've come up with is quite intriguing.
Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt principal and creative director, talked about the project on The Daily Circuit Tuesday.
"We were trying to be careful in showing that teachers don't tell you what you do; they facilitate learning and help maximize potential," Peraza said. "This dynamic was central. We wanted it to feel like a teacher's a guide and maximizes your potential as a student."
Renee Gosline, assistant professor of marketing at MIT Sloan School of Management, also joined the discussion.
"A brand is not product, not a trademark, not something you hold in your hand," Gosline said. "It's a set of associations. It's co-created by consumers."
Video: Studio 360 Redesigns Teachers
If you are a teacher, an aspiring teacher or a parent, how can we restore luster to the brand?
Millions of dollars are being spent by right leaning political interests to demeanize and diminish the teaching profession and their unions. What can we do to challenge these attacks?
I thought this was a little silly until I remembered how often I was irritated by being discounted as a "schoolteacher" because I had taken a graduate degree enabling me to work with secondary students rather than pursuing college teaching with my fine undergraduate degree...
The teachers' reliance on unionization has changed our perception from "learned professionals" to "hired hands".
@kerrimpr while watching the Academy Awards I realized all these actors aren't in a union they are in a "guild". Why not teachers as well?
This is a perception but not reality in my experience...in Minneapolis, the whole thrust of union activity in recent years was on increasing professionalism.
Joe in Minneapolis - "I'd change the teacher symbol to the light bulb or the lightning bolt, to demonstrate the critical role teachers play in the enlightenment of student."
While traveling in Nicaragua, I notice that every school I visit the students stand when I walk in with my friend from the area. That will never happen here anymore if it ever did.
This was just a piggyback on the guy talking abut those Russian students. Luv the show.
Caller is totally true. I'm from Sri Lanka and back home students always getup when teacher comes to the class. there is lot of respect to the teacher. I don't think in US its same. You have to respect to the person who teach if you need to learn something from them.
Unionization has not changed teachers to "hired hands." Unionization changed teaching to a profession. Before unions, female teachers made less than male teachers.
I have a daughter who is in Kindergarten and her teacher is at least 10 years younger than me. In my head I had pictured someone who was going to be much older than me to teach my daughter (because that was the mental image I had of teachers).
However, I quickly realized even tho the teacher is much younger than me, she has been educated and taught to be able to teach my daughter.
@KerriMPR The symbol: Mother Theresa. The Slogan: "Working for Extraordinary Results: Working for Free. " #PardonMySnark
In my experience as an educator it seems like teachers aren't recognized as professionals. I have worked as a substitute and hourly teacher for six years.
I have tried to find employment outside of education and have heard time and again that my skills as a teacher aren't that of a "professional". With the "abc 123" branding it's no wonder employers think we simply sing songs, make snacks and facilitate nap times!
@KerriMPR Russian educators also use the threat of public humiliation as a motivator. Beware when emulating other cultures.
We remember being embarrassed by bad teachers, we forget being inspired by great teachers. A new generation of parents says, "Make learning fun" rather than "Challenge my child to learn a lot". The compact light bulb which comes on slowly is a good idea, I think.
One of the proposed re-branded images. (Courtesy Hyperakt)
Education is an essential part of our nation's infrastructure. Learning/discovery/ curiosity is universal and we need to encourage that. Perhaps a symbol indicating the interconnectedness of everything is a possibility.
There was an era where teachers were more educated than most people, and parents and the community respected that. Now they've been pictured as the lower rung of the educated class, and there is some data that bears that out in terms of who goes into education, so that is what needs to be addressed.
Remember the Academy Awards - they had celebrities reminiscing about their first (best) experience at the movies. How about using a similar tactic with teachers - public figures waxing poetic about a great teacher that made a diiference for them?
I would welcome changes in teacher evaluation and higher standards. As a motivated teacher with a set salary schedule with very few opportunities for recognition, reward, or growth, I and others don't have the incentive to go above and beyond, even though most teachers in my school do.
The rebranding needs to start with public perception. Too many parents today see the schools as a drop off zone for children.
I believe the brand can help drive policy changes. If there is a public perception that teachers are a highly valued profession this will increase public pressure on officials to increase salaries and prioritize education. Business does this all the time and it works.
This Yellow School sign rebrand isn't going to work. Too elementary. Think bigger," Unified Mathmatical Theory of the Universe."
How about the moment a child learns to ride a bike with the teacher giving them that last push, before they "get it".
@KerriMPR the symbol should be a donkey pulling a large plow while being whipped.
"Where's the Beef?"Branding with no real plan to change the substance of the teaching profession is pure deception. branding is not an effort to change the substance of the product or process. CHange teaching and the brand will change but to create a brand that might influence the profession but that doesn't mean improved or innovative instruction.
Kerri's guest, Renee Gosline of the MIT Sloan School of Management.
We need to attract top quality graduates through pay, and the prestige will follow.
Think of the smartest woman you know—a surgeon, a scientist, or an attorney perhaps. In the past, sexism (which is entirely unjust) would have curtailed her opportunities, probably putting her in a high school classroom.
We’re not going to return to gender discrimination; only money will bring us back to that quality level. Not a logo.
I am an early childhood teacher. In branding the entire profession, I would think it important to differentiate between teachers working with different ages / stages.
Early childhood educators often struggle with keeping policy expectations of young children appropriate. When we value "rigor" with older students (and I do), and if we were to brand accordingly, there is a tendency to push down curricula and approaches onto much younger children that are not appropriate to their stage of development.
Brand images and ideas that center on rigor may exacerbate this issue for those of us working with the very young. That said, boy do we need help rebranding early childhood folks as something other than "couldn't-do-anything-else"!
What is the pay range for teachers in Minnesota? How does that compare to other professions? Factoring in 2 months off in the summer which is a wonderful life style choice.
Deroy Peraza, creative director of Hyperakt.
We need to attract more men to teaching.
Teaching is still thought of as a woman's career. I agree we need to attract the top graduates of both sexes by improving the pay. Make the contracts for a whole year and allow the teachers to improve the skills and curricula year round.
Branding shapes the discussion as a cosmetic to obscure or create luster where there is little real value or substance. The result is a deadening of the public understanding of the problems that teachers face.
The pay ranges in MN are around $30.000 for new teachers to 70,000 for those with masters degrees and 30 plus years of experience. You don't get paid for those 2 months off!
NExT (Network for Excellence in Teaching) has been working on this issue with Padilla Speer Beardsley and were nominated for a regional Emmy for this campaign: www.youtube.com
Part of the equation is the "learning". Wouldn't it be helpful to include that aspect in any rebranding? Teaching is nothing if there are no learners.
Is there anything we can learn from the rebranding of professional nursing in past decades?
Remember the Johnson & Johnson ads promoting nurses? Maybe we should study how that worked out.
I would hope in rebranding we could some how address the social/emotional development that teachers, in particular those who work in an urban setting, provide for students.
We don't just teach academic subjects anymore. We are responsible for teaching them about how to function in society. That isn't being taught at home for many young people.
The ever-widening spirals of the nautilus shell captures the concept of process and increased knowledge.
I'd add a Dollar Sign and advertise that teachers wil finally be well paid for the critically important work they do.
The only reason I'm not in the teaching profession myself is the low pay packages that teachers get. Good pay draws good performers.
Teaching is underpaid as a relic of the old sexist model that limited capable career-minded women to three job options only: nurse, teacher or secretary. All three jobs underpaid as a result.
interesting that they chose to use school-bus-yellow.
Why are we trying to attract more people to a profession which already had too many highly qualified candidates.
I taught middle school students (junior high) for 37 years. Retired in 2006.
The biggest change I experienced in my career was the emphasis on building students self esteem. So much so that in the last 8-10 years of my career all students were given A and B grades, because it would make them feel good. If you gave them a C it was considered as an F grade would have been in the beginning of my career.
Good teachers challenged you and got you to think not just "rubber-stamped" you with a A or B grade because you would feel good about yourself. Sometimes failure teaches more than success.
How about $$$ = School.
I think we need to emphasize that the strength of this nation, in all areas, flows from education.
The economy is strengthened by innovation spurred by math and science; and our system of government requires an educated and informed public to function properly.
This is a document on attracting future teachers from among the "Top-Third +"
On page 29 it compares the expectation that starting teacher salaries were below 30k with the actuality of a 39k average starting salary (and well within the salary range many respondents desire). The result (on p. 31) is that informing the highest performing college students of this fact could result in a jump of 7% (4,000 students nationally) of the brightest candidates entering the teaching profession.
The research also advocates boosting teacher pay to attract even more top students, but even as things are, we could do better at attracting the best.
Why do business people who pay low wages and therefore attract workers without good work habits blame it all on teachers? Teachers only see students 61/2 or 7 hours per day, 5 out of the 7 days.
There are plenty of teachers, the challange is selecting and keeping the best ones.
The entire marketing approach for teachers needs to be considered. It's essential for all communities to view education from a different lens - no more ads with apples, books and pencils. That is not today's education model. Yes, teachers need a brand and districts need marketers.
what about having a "National Teachers Day"?
It would help if teachers were not seen as union moguls. The union lable is hindering percptions and lableing teachers. Teachers need to gain back the identiy that they are here for kids and until the union diminshies its in your face appraoch education and educators will be seen as less than desirable.
Lots of people out there with teaching degrees who never got a foot in the door because there will be 400 highly qualified applicant for every job opening. If anything we need to be limiting the number of people going into the field to reflect available jobs.
For a new branding symbol for teachers - how about a heaping stack of pancakes? Breakfast helps gets your day going and education gets your life going.
Maybe it could be a Pee-wee Herman pancake with bacon for lips and banana slices for eyes since teachers have to be creative.
No specific comment on any part of this program....only to say THANK YOU for the Daily Circuit. It is absolutely the Best!
The best teachers need to be nurtured, watered, and fertilized. They're not born.
The negative reaction to "branding" is due to the commercial connotation. Really what you are doing in creating "info-graphics" to express the essence of the profession in symbols.
To Nina Resler-Myklebust: Employment prospects for ed. grads best of all majors (Georgetown Study)--look at graphic on page 7
Teaching is therefore the career with the highest demand per applicant.
After years of teaching and substitute teaching, I remember best the times I learned from students. I love the connect the dots graphic since students and teachers are always learning.
Nothing could be more distructive to teaching and public education than a conversation exploring the "branding" of teaching.
Branding is a form of public deception used by corporations to promote something that does not exist in the form that the brand suggests.
Deceiving the public about any aspect of education may seem at first blush "cute" but it is a banal use of the communication medium. Not an effort o expand or improve the quality of public thought but to debase it to the benefit of industrial purposes. Go for it MPR!
I am in my 7th year teaching in an urban pubic school. It's such a hard job that my gut reaction to the concept of "rebranding" is hesitant. If we attract enthusiastic professionals to teaching with the dream of being a superhero, the way movies portray teachers, we are going to end up with a bunch of people leaving the profession suddenly when they realize the reality on the ground. The job is SO big that the best teachers work 60+ hours a week, and a good part of the school holidays & summers as well. People thinking they're getting into a job where they can work Monday through Friday, go home at 3:30 and have weekends and summers off are dead wrong. I hate to say it, but I think we have a responsibility to be honest with the non-teaching public while "luring" them into the field. Not only that, if we aren't honest, we will continue to fuel the ongoing myth in our country that this is an easy job, creating more backlash against schools and teachers who work in low income areas.
@Proud Educator: Thank you for your honesty and service. As a retired educator I believe it is the hardest most undervalued profession, period. I hope you stay with teaching, our country needs you.
Spring break and 2 months off in the summer to focus on family. Not so bad. As a small business owner I wish I had it so good.
If the pay range for teachers in MN is 30,000 - 70,000 with a pension and very good health care benefits for life + 2 months off in the summer, I don't think this is low pay. Both of my parents were high school teachers not because they wanted to make a lot of money. They loved kids, loved to teach, enjoyed a middle class life style with 2 weeks off for Christmas, a week off for
@Jim Gust Thank you Jim!
Here is one attempt to capture the importance of teaching in a simple visual presentation of words and inspire students to consider the teaching profession: www.flickr.com
As a teacher I can tell you that there are several misconceptions written in these comments.
I haven't had one since I started teaching.
Monday through friday 7-3?
Not even close.
The paperwork alone keeps me up nights and busy on weekends and that's just the post teaching paperwork which relates to progress reporting. Let's talk about creating instruction for a large group of students with very different abilities and needs. The prep work to develop engaging lessons that teach valuable skills is considerable.
I'm not complaining; let me be clear that I LOVE my job. However, there is a lot more to it than most people realize.
Branding seems to have 2 impacts that would benefit our communities.
Internally: it would provide a energizing clarification of the role teachers plays in our community that could instill pride in the profession.
Externally: it allows people outside the profession understand the role and the value of the profession.
It sure seems like such a vital part of our culture and the cultural development (teaching) needs to be re-branded to address and defend against the misinformed assault on the profession.