By Laura Bickle
You matter. That is the message that drives the work of Angela Maiers, an education and technology consultant. “When people accept that they matter and that their actions count — lives and learning change, and our world changes,” says Colorado-based Maiers, founder of Choose2Matter (choose2matter.org), a social movement that seeks to bring her philosophy to students around the world. Maiers’s impressive body of work has been informed by having taught every level of school (K to graduate school) during her 28 years as an educator. She has also written seven books, including Classroom Habitudes and The Passion-Driven Classroom, and has even given a popular TEDx talk (oct-oeeo.ca/youmatter) on her powerful message. To discover passion, Maiers advocates that individuals follow their heartbreak, rather than their hearts. By identifying what breaks your heart, you are able to uncover what you find compelling — which brings you closer to discovering your life’s purpose. Here’s how Maiers suggests that we transform education.
What does a passion-driven classroom look like?
When you have a passion, it generally presents itself as: “I believe in this. I own this. I think about it even when I’m not on the clock.” This sense of ownership becomes a responsibility — the mission to pursue excellent work. Being in the classroom no longer signifies just a “job” for our teachers or simply a location where students are required to go. It becomes their collective passion.
What role does technology play in improving learning?
Connectivity can become a pathway to richer purpose. Through Choose2Matter, students may not know each other but they empower each other and learn to solve problems bigger than they have ever dreamed they would tackle. They do this through common heartbreaks and the mattering framework — and technology allows for this.
What should teachers know about their role in this?
Teachers, like their students, must understand that they matter. To help students find their genius, share it with the world and use it to solve epic heartaches — it is essential that the teachers themselves see their value. With high-stakes testing tied to teacher evaluations and other public stressors facing educators, sometimes they are the last ones to hear that they matter.
What drives your passion to spread your message?
I often hear about an Achievement Gap in schools. We actually have a Mattering Gap. Too many students walk through school not knowing that they have their own individual genius inside them. Not understanding that they matter, not simply to one or two people, but to the world. We must ensure that all students recognize their genius and understand that they have a moral imperative to act on it.