Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Focus on Teachers: Teacher PR Corps

March 07, 2014

Approximately nine months ago, Boston Public Schools teacher Lillie Marshall wrote a passionate post for Impatient Optimists on the importance of teachers telling their own stories about teaching. She confronted the many different stereotypes the media often perpetuates about teachers. And, she challenged her colleagues to take control of their own narratives about teaching by writing articles, posting blogs, sharing videos, and becoming active on social media. 

Lillie facilitates a group called the Teacher PR Corps. Born from a Colleague Circle at the 2013 Elevating and Celebrating Teachers and Teaching convening (ECET2), the Teacher PR Corps consists of teachers across the country who are dedicated to sharing positive stories beyond the field of education about what it is truly like to be a teacher.

“The Teacher PR Corps began at ECET2 last year when were asked to identify a problem we collectively wanted to work on,” explained Lillie. “Many of us were frustrated with the images of teachers that are out there. We started as a group of about 10 teachers and, while some of the teachers were not able to continue, we picked up others outside of the original Colleague Circle through Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and even word of mouth. ”

The PR Corps includes Chris Crouch, a 14-year Kentucky educator who blogs on education for the Huffington Post, and Massachusetts teacher and reading coordinator Katie Novak. Katie is an avid education blogger, contributor to the Teaching Channel, and Twitter user (@KatieNovakUDL) on the Common Core State Standards and Universal Design for Learning, a curriculum and instructional framework that uses multiple approaches for engaging all learners. 

Prince George’s County, MD high school teacher and 2013 Maryland Teacher of the Year Clint Smith is also an active member of the Teacher PR Corps. Clint is a spoken word poet whose poetry about students—particularly students of color and students in poverty—has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube and social media.

As Clint describes the PR Teacher Corps, “We are a collegial group looking to redefine education and hoping to inspire people to join our cause. It’s a powerful networking opportunity for people who want to understand how to use their voice online.”

Clint, along with Chris Crouch, Katie Novak, and Maine teacher Doug Hodum, recently presented at Social Media Week in New York City on “the future of teaching and how digital tools can transform the profession.” Watch the panel discussion to hear media strategies you can use on your own and to begin the conversations with teachers in your school and district.

And, the PR Corps continues to enjoy a growing number of members; “the more the merrier,” Lillie asserts. Join the Corps at www.facebook.com/groups/TeacherPRCorps  or reach out to Lillie via Twitter @WorldLillie to learn more.

 
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