A message that has been on my heart lately is YOU MATTER. In order to be successful in anything that you do in life on a personal and professional level, you have to always remember these two important words. I truly believe that our success is dependent on it. How do you know that you matter? I think that it really starts in the mirror. When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see a person of worth and value? Or do you see a person who is worthless and has no value? Your perception of yourself significantly impacts your actions.
I have worked in higher education since 2006. I’ve worked for community colleges and universities and I have worked with faculty, staff, students, administrators, and community organizations. I have witnessed the difference between individuals who believe that they matter and those who feel like they do not. Those who feel like they matter walk around with an air of confidence that radiates off of them. They work from a place of excellence and integrity because they know that the work that they do not only impact themselves but impacts others as well. They approach life ready to invest the time that is needed for success. If you don’t feel like you matter, every day can be a struggle. You may put in the work, but wonder if your efforts really mean anything at all.
At this point in my career, I feel like I matter. I feel like I am a person of worth and value and I am confident in the work that I do. Unfortunately, I have not always felt that way. I have been in the place where I felt like my efforts did not matter. To be perfectly honest with you, that was a tough place to be in, and it really hurts my heart when I come across people in life who feel this way. No one should ever feel like they don’t matter!!! It’s one of my missions in life to make sure that every person I come across in life feels like they matter. I want every person that I come in contact with to feel like they are a person of worth and value, I want people to feel like they matter.
For the next six weeks, I am going to focus on this theme: I matter, you matter, we matter. I hope that you will join me for the ride. I truly believe this message significantly impacts teaching, learning, student success, and life. =>)
At the beginning of my ESL classes, I often hand out strips of paper with a single warm-up question that can be answered relatively quickly (I haven’t timed them, but I think the average is 10 seconds). This gives students an incentive to arrive on time to get a few points and partake in an interesting warm-up discussion. Some examples: What do you often dream about? What is your greatest fear? If you changed your name, what would it be? Recently, I gave them this question:
How much money do you need to be happy?
They quickly began to pencil in their answers; as each student finished, I collected their strips of paper. One student was taking longer than the usual 10 seconds. We joked that he must be writing quite a lot of zeros! He turned his in and we discussed the amounts everyone had written. The lowest was “$20” – the highest was a tie between “too much” and “whatever Jeff Bezos has.”
Then I asked them, “Do you know of a word in English to describe an amount so large that it can’t even be counted..?” Being ESL students, they were stumped, so I explained that they can use the term “a zillion.” I then passed out zillion dollar bills. They beamed and were amazed because they look and feel like real money. One student said, “Wow! Now I can quit my job!” Another said, “I’m going to buy a house – and I’ll be getting some change back!” One asked “How many zeros are in a zillion?”
I asked them, “So, now do you feel happier?”
The answer was a resounding “Yes!”
For a few minutes, these students smiled and laughed together, helping to build connections and community in the classroom, something that just may bring more happiness than a zillion dollars.