Thoughts about YOU MATTER – Angela Maeirs Powerful TEDx Talk

I found this to be an INCREDIBLY powerful talk. I’ve already listened to it twice.

Just thinking about it has already sparked interesting chains of thought and its only been two days!

My friend, who is a retired kindergarten teacher commented that when you walk into a kindergarten class and feel the calm, relaxed atmosphere, you know that the teacher has adopted the “you matter” attitude. She always used lines such as “you waited patiently for the slide today” “you let your friend use the crayon” and says it made  a world of difference to the kids.

That part of the talk is not new in itself – I believe all teachers know this is important (at least theoretically). And as a special ed teachers I have watched Rick Lavoie’s film “When the Chips are Down” countless times. But Angela Maeirs takes this point beyond education, into our daily life! Now, you may say “duh”, but Maeirs is a really great speaker and I found myself asking “why has the focus only been on the pupils? What about us teachers, and everyone else I meet regularly? Being polite and noticing aren’t the same!

A few hours after I first listened to it I had to go to a stationary store and found myself buying a “noticing notebook”. I got home and stopped myself from putting it into my schoolbag. I was “blown away” Maeirs’ description of the impact of such a notebook on the students. But I’m not Maeirs! I teach in the format of a learning center with five or seven different things going on in class at the same time. In the short breaks between lessons I barely have time to put my stuff back in order or take some bites of my sandwich. I’m also trying to remember to drink more often… How can I write those “I noticed” notes? And if I wait till the end of the day, and it is one of the days of seven classes in a row, who will be insulted by what I forgot by then to write?

But it is such a good idea…

This talk also really highlighted another aspect of the brilliance that is the Y.A.L.P Project, and how lucky I am to have Dr. Judy Yaron helping me implement it. In the project not only do the pupils get individual attention from someone, but because it is structured so that non-teachers can teach, pupils teach each other. And when Maeirs talks about showing the pupils we trust them with important tasks, it really means a lot to some of the kids when I say to one of them “Danny really wants to work at his Y.A.L.P Project now and you are a great teacher, will you teach him now?” I’m hoping to expand the scope of the project this year! (you can read about the project here and here).


I haven’t exhausted all I feel about this talk, but I guess this is enough for one post. I just wish I could get it subtitled into Hebrew – I can’t share it with my Hebrew speaking staff at school and at my counseling job. You may hear about it again…

* note – I say “listening” to the talk and not “watching” it as I have upgraded my mp player and can now do housework as I listen! HA!

5 thoughts on “Thoughts about YOU MATTER – Angela Maeirs Powerful TEDx Talk”

  1. brilliant talk. How cool of you to post it on your blog.
    Maiers knows what she’s talking about.
    Don’t you love how students started supplying her with extra ‘noticings’?
    The ‘catch them when they’re good’ technique can expand into written notes and formal readings in the morning – any teacher can contribute to the positive atmosphere. Bravo

  2. I’ve always felt that one of the best qualities a manager of teachers can have is to treat each teacher like they matter to the program. Listen to only them when they come to speak with you; give them complete attention; suggest immediate action based on their concerns.

    I’m sure a lot of us don’t do this or apply this to each of our individual students all the time, especially in such a direct way as saying it clearly to students in terms of noticing or essentialness.

  3. Judih!
    Brilliant is certainly the word here – brilliance in simplicity!
    That part about the students adding “noticings” is one I can’t get out of my head!
    I just returned from a luncheon meeting with friends and we were discussing the point you raised about managers. So often the teachers aren’t noticed either! We were comparing managerial styles of two different people and how one of them always answered the phone in such a way that you felt you made his day by calling him. That had a powerful impact on us all-we wanted to live up to his expectations!

  4. Thank you, dear Naomi.
    It means a lot to us to know that we matter 🙂
    I guess we tend to take things for granted, particularly the good stuff, things that are working – even the well-behaved children who always do the right thing are happy to lend a helping hand. Some might claim, “Hey, what’s the big deal? They are just doing what they are supposed to be doing!” but, in our crazy world that isn’t always the norm!
    As a teacher, I can offer two small tricks that work wonders. The first is to simply make sure to acknowledge (or as Oprah would say, “validate”) each and every child every day. It can be a smile, or “how’re you doing?”; it can be a comment about how cool their hair looks or a question about the picture on their t-shirt. It’s amazing how powerful the little things are. Years later I have had former students tell me how a small dosage of individualized attention made them feel. Sadly, schools can be a very lonely place. The second is to “find something right”. As teachers, checking students work comes with the territory. We are so busy with our red pens correcting kids’ mistakes. Rather than looking for and focusing on mistakes, why not highlight what was right. This is extremely useful with homework. I used to walk around the class and while I glanced and kids’ notebooks, I would point out to them what was right so that they could offer that answer when we checked homework. You wold be amazed at how the participation rates went up.
    Tov, you more than matter! Thank YOU so much for everything you give and share.
    Big hugs and good luck,

  5. I’m simply amazed at the reactions I’ve been getting from people! And am glad that they led to the opportunity to read such useful tips as you have written. There don’t seem to be enough opportunities to discuss these things!
    Thanks for tiaking the time to write!

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