They do believe you, and they are listening. #YouMatter

Copyright Brandon Stanton, Humans of New York

Copyright Brandon Stanton, Humans of New York

When you tell people they matter, often you don’t know right away – or ever – if they believe you, or are listening at all. Sometimes, you start to feel that maybe you don’t matter.

But know this: They DO Believe. They ARE Listening. You DO Matter.

In some instances you learn later about the impact you had on someone, and in some instances, you never learn about it.

But the fact remains: when you tell, and show, people that they matter, to you and to the world, you change and save lives, to a degree you can only imagine.

  • One former student showed up on my stoop 20 years later, in the dress uniform of a US Marine, to show me that he did become somebody important, as I had apparently predicted when he was five.
  • In “A Few Words From You Can Save a Life,” we share many other examples of people discussing, years or decades later, how a few words from a caring person had changed or saved their lives.

One of these instances became headline news this week, courtesy of a young man named Vidal and Brandon Stanton, the passionate and caring person behind Humans of New York. Brandon walks around NYC photographing and interviewing people, and then sharing their image and words with the tens of millions of people who read his work.

Last week, he met Vidal, a student at Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a middle school in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Brownsville is not an easy place to grow up, go to school, or teach.

Brandon asks all of his subjects one or two simple questions, and then records and reports their response. This was his conversation with Vidal:

“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”

“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”

“How has she influenced you?”

“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built.

And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.

A day later, this conversation was recounted to Humans of NY’s 11+ million fans.

At the time it was published, Ms. Lopez was trying to enjoy a play with her daughter, but the world had other ideas. Suddenly, she says,

“I started to get all these text messages from my teachers and former students….my daughter said: ‘Mom, we’ve got to find out what’s happening.’ So we went and sat in the car. And I read what Vidal said, and I began to read the comments. And tears started coming down my face. Because even though I always tell you that you matter, up until that moment, I didn’t feel like I mattered.”

Brandon met with Ms. Lopez, and learned about her struggle to convince her students that there was more to life than what they experienced in their neighborhood, and that they could become somebody important. She dreamed of taking her incoming sixth graders on a field trip to Harvard to, as I like to say, stretch their thinking and help them envision success.

When Brandon learned that such a field trip would cost $30,000, he asked his followers for $100,000, to fund three field trips. For the second time in two days, the world responded with one of the most emphatic “You Matter” statements that anyone will ever hear.

  • The $100,000 was raised in a few hours, and $300,000 in a day; ten years of field trips were funded.
  • Ms. Lopez then spoke of how a summer program would impact the lives of her students, at a cost of $40,000. Hours later, ten years’ of summer programs had funded.
  • Brandon then created the “Vidal Scholarship” to send Mott Bridges students to college, and said the first recipient would be Vidal. Currently, almost $300,000 has been raised for the scholarship fund – for a total of nearly $1 million (please consider a small donation).

How has this impacted Ms. Lopez, who brought this all on by telling her students, one-by-one, that they matter? She told her students today:

“I have something to admit to all of you. Before all of this happened, I was about to give up. I was broken. I felt like typing my resignation. I told my mother: ‘Mom, I don’t think I can do it anymore. Because I don’t think my scholars care. And I don’t think they believe in themselves enough to care. I’m afraid they don’t think they’re good enough.’ And she told me to pray on it. But I told her, ‘I might be too angry to pray.’ And I know this is hard to believe, because you guys have never seen me break. But I was broken. It’s just like when you see your mom break down. You only see your mom cry when she’s been fighting so hard for you and she doesn’t think you care. That’s how I felt.”

Most of us will never learn this in such a public way – nor raise $1 million for your students as results – but when you tell people they matter, they believe you.

They are listening.

You matter.

More than you may ever know.

***

Click here to make a donation to the Mott Bridges Academy today!

***

Click here to learn about our toolkit, Mattering IS the Agenda, which helps you create a culture of mattering in your school or organization.

Winter Reflections Part 1: A Break to Ponder

This is Part 1 in a two-part post on reflecting over the Winter Break. The life of a teacher requires a big investment in the well-being of others. As a teacher, my drive to and from school every day was filled with scenes from the school day and thoughts about whether my students were truly… Continue Reading

Neolithic Classroom Habitudes

This is a guest post from Debbie Stephens, a sixth grade teacher of reading and social studies at Woodward Academy, North campus, in College Park, GA.  People have always asked how in the world I could find the time to include Angela Maiers’ Classroom Habitudes in my lesson plans. I ask, “How can I not include… Continue Reading

Student Geniuses Stand Up in Grand Island

What happens when you ask genius to show up? It usually does, right on time. Two weeks ago, it showed up in droves. 2,300 high school students heard the Choose2Matter message that the world needs their genius. The leadership at Grand Island Senior High believes that students should see themselves as much more than the… Continue Reading

The Sandbox Manifesto

I honestly proclaim that everything I have learned about social media, I learned from children. Children have no ulterior motives; they play authentically and transparently. In doing so, they place profound lessons in front of us. How do I know this? From the many times I was privileged to visit with children in their most sacred… Continue Reading

How Do Schools Get Tech R.I.G.H.T.?

  Technology transforms the world in which we live. It can make the impossible possible and is the key to doing more with less. Yet many school leaders are apprehensive about bringing technology into their school, much the way the fellow in this clip fears one of his first sightings of snow: Those who fear technology don’t… Continue Reading

9 Essential Lessons For Changing the World

Schools have a standardized system and protocols in place for every aspect of student learning — except one: Schools have no system at all in place to teach students how to bring about change in the world. Few, if any, schools offer a set of lessons and practices that guides students through the process of how… Continue Reading

What Will Your Verse Be? – Guest Post by Monica Evon

The new school year is in full swing, and the jitters of the first couple weeks are subsiding. Students know which classes to go to when, and teachers are calling on students without glancing at the class roster (at least not too often). With procedures and protocols out of the way, I am reminded of… Continue Reading

EdTech Digest Awards: Nominations Open until Sept. 30!

Do you know someone who is exceptionally innovative in their approach to education? Is there an organization or product that is having a substantial impact on the way technology supports learning? Then it’s time to give them proper recognition! The EdTech Digest Awards recognize the people and products reshaping the way we learn. The awards… Continue Reading

#YouMatter: Good For Your Heart, Good For Your Health

On September 7, I was the guest for a Twitter Chat titled, “When People Know They Matter It Changes Everything,” live from the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation’s Transform 2014 Conference. It was so affirming to be invited to attend this conference. Nearly all of the speakers who preceded the Twitter chat referenced how vital… Continue Reading

Please sign-up for my new email newsletter!

We’ve been creating a steady stream of new products for educator and students. An e-book titled “Passion Matters” Our toolkit for transforming school culture, “Mattering IS the Agenda“ A “class” on Remind.com that enables you to regularly receive “You Matter” messages. Coming soon will be more ways to experience our content, such as slide decks, videos… Continue Reading

Sign-up for my #YouMatter Class on Remind!

The You Matter message is resonating with educators more than ever before. Interest has been strong in “Mattering IS the Agenda – a Toolkit for Transformation,” which helps schools create a #YouMatter culture in school. Nearly every keynote I’ve given in the past 30 days has been on #YouMatter. I asked a school district to… Continue Reading

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...