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By Angela Maiers

You Have to Show Kids That They Matter

I recently spoke with Nicholas Provenzano and Timothy Gwynn on #Nerdycast and Hooked! on BAM Radio Network. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.

Nicholas and Timothy are passionate teachers so I loved speaking with them about the importance of letting students know their contribution is valued.

“If we do not secure their hearts, we do not have a shot at their brains.”

Nicholas and Tim asked me to introduce the work I do with Choose2Matter. I explained it is, like teaching, a labor of love.

“The root word of passion …  is to suffer. To be willing to suffer through any challenge because the work that you’re doing and the pledge that people are making to you and you’re making back to them is so sacred there is nothing that breaks it. It’s that binding and that’s what we need to cultivate in our classrooms.”

Students need to know they matter; they need to know that one matter is in our DNA–it’s that important.

Last year we asked a half  million kids, “What would you pledge yourself to?” and “What would make you run to school?” It boiled down to twelve things, such as “I want to be noticed, I want you to smile at me, I want you to say my name.” The need to hear one’s own name is why two hundred million people are sending Tweets every day because someone’s noticing them.

“My job is to teach, not to be their friend.”

Nicholas said that he’ll often hear teachers in the faculty room say that they are not their students’ friend. I responded:

“Anybody who teaches pledges to change lives … give me a year of your life and I promise you that you will walk out of here better, stronger, smarter, more confident, more beautiful. So anybody who does that kind of work would never ever pledge that they want to be your friend because there’s no way that you can grow without the appropriate conditions and feedback. Cultivating genius is a really difficult endeavor.”

For fellow teachers, I’d love to hear from you and start a conversation about the following questions:

  • What kind of pledge do we make to our students when we begin the school year or even every class?
  • Do you think that you can be your students’ friend and teacher?
  • How do you make your students feel that they matter?
  • How do you make your students feel noticed every day? In every class?