By Annie Morrison, Louisiana Department of Education
The need for exceptional teachers is one that plagues nearly every state in the country, especially in rural and low income communities. Yet, our schools and colleges are filled with bright and talented prospects. The disconnect is that the adults that influence these students are encouraging them to pursue careers in higher paying fields they deem more prestigious.
In 2014, Louisiana began work to elevate the teaching profession with the launch of Believe and Prepare teacher preparation program, which provides aspiring teachers the opportunity to train for a full year under the guidance of a veteran mentor teacher. In February, Louisiana continued these efforts with the launch of “Be A Teacher LA”, a statewide teacher recruitment campaign designed to further elevate the profession in the minds of high school and college students, and those that most acutely influence their career decisions- parents and teachers.
Research conducted pre-campaign showed that the target audience, also known as “Generation Z,” is concerned with choosing a career that will not be replaced by technology, and is selective in how they spend their time. The campaign plays off of these characteristics through a series of digital videos and social media posts designed to quickly grab their attention and to demonstrate teaching as a profession that will not be automated. A key component of the campaign is a suite of video vignettes starring "U-Learn 2000," a robotic teacher that struggles to lead its classes as effectively as its human colleagues. The videos emphasize the campaign tagline, "Be Irreplaceable. Be a Teacher."
The campaign is also supported through:
- radio and television PSAs, some delivered by the state’s Governor John Bel Edwards;
- outdoor billboards; and
- public relation activities involving advocates like Louisiana Teacher of the Year Kim Eckert.
Throughout the campaign, the Department will promote stories of phenomenal teachers who have built a career on their personal passions, such as the state’s mentor teachers who are guiding the next generation of teachers, and those who have come back to teach in the schools they used to attend.
The Department is working with school systems, educator preparation programs, education advocates and the Governor’s office to promote the campaign statewide. All of the campaign materials have been posted on the campaign’s asset page for easy access, and teachers and school counselors are encouraged to share inspirational stories and messages on social media using the hashtag #BeATeacherLA.
In order for Louisiana students to succeed, they must have ongoing access to effective educators, and “Be A Teacher LA” is critical step in achieving this vision. Using a post-campaign sentiment survey, the Department will be able to gauge the impact the campaign had on increasing the sentiment of not only high school and college students, but also their influencers. In partnership with colleges and universities, the Department will work with school counselors and college advisors to cultivate these interests in order to increase enrollment in teacher preparation programs over the next three years.
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