Introducing "Who Taught You?": A Movement to Elevate the Profession that Makes All Others Possible
Is there a teacher (or other school staff) who influenced who you've become?
When we ask people this question the vast majority of them are sharing a name before we can even finish asking. We then probe further and ask for a story. The change in their facial expressions and body language demonstrate their immense gratitude. Now, consider what would happen if we asked this question on a grander scale. What if we could prompt individuals to cherish and respect educators by surfacing the enduring appreciation they hold for their own teachers?
According to Education Week (January 2023), 46% of teachers do not feel respected by the public. This disheartening statistic serves as a reflection of our cultural norms. As a society, we routinely overlook and disregard individuals we neither see nor respect. It's much easier for us to engage in issues that hold personal significance to us. We all share the experience of having had multiple teachers throughout our lives and can certainly bring to mind an adult from within the walls of our schools - be it a teacher, counselor, coach, bus driver - who left an indelible mark.
This is why we created "Who Taught You," an uplifting campaign designed to celebrate the profession that makes all others possible. We believe that by engaging the public in telling stories about educators who profoundly impacted their lives and by providing simple avenues to share them, we can weave gratitude and respect into our collective consciousness. In doing so, we aim to pave the way for the essential work that must be undertaken in shaping education policy and fostering daily interactions of respect and appreciation.
The model for Who Taught You is based upon the successful storytelling and impact campaign, I Love Public Schools (ILPS). In 2011, this transformative independent movement was ignited in Nebraska aimed at rewriting the enduring and often negative narrative surrounding public schools. The non-partisan ILPS campaign is guided by the power of documentary storytelling, development of community strengthened through social media, and a mission to raise awareness through iconic I ♥ Public Schools branded merchandise. Over more than a decade, we’ve meticulously crafted hundreds of films celebrating the remarkable stories unfolding within public schools while shedding light on the pressing issues faced by students, educators, and schools. By 2022, research to measure success of the campaign showed that, in collaboration with a strong education ecosystem, we had fostered a united front of Nebraska citizens, all equipped with what we came to be seen as "political readiness."
The groundwork for Who Taught You has been laid with a website, growing social media following, branded merchandise, and an expanding list of partner organizations. Long-term success relies on volume—both in terms of the quantity of stories and the reach of the amplifiers' platforms. The message will spread like wildfire when consumer brands, celebrities, CEOs, students, and members of the education ecosystem join forces with us to share stories and amplify.
Given the depth and breadth of issues in our education system, we’re often left with a feeling of helplessness. It’s too big and too hard for any one person to solve. Who Taught You demonstrates the power each of us has to create change by providing one simple action to take - sharing a story. In doing so you’re contributing to society’s collective consciousness of the critical role educators play in the lives of our children and the stability of our democracy.
We wholeheartedly invite you to join us in the mission of elevating the profession that makes all others possible.
We can't wait to hear and share your story. To learn more about how you can amplify the mission and engage those in your districts, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.