I’m not a positive person and I’ll be the first to admit this. In fact, I’ve been called “Mr. Doom and Gloom” by my wife, and sometimes prefer to hang out on those web sites that deal with the “what’s wrong with the world” part of life. And for the most part, I’m ok with this. No, I’m not a basket case or anything like that, just not always positive.

However, I do believe that people have the power to change, and for the better. I’ve seen too many students who in elementary school gave the impression of “why should I care” only to become outstanding in the classroom, on the stage, or in an athletic venue. We always hear that change is hard, and it is, but it’s possible.

This all being said, I love, absolutely love what I do. I can’t imagine a life without teaching in it. I work with outstanding teachers, caring parents, and some of the most interesting students in the world. They keep me young, they keep me on my toes, they drive me crazy, but I love them to pieces. Because of this, I’ve always searched for that trigger, that thing that will trip my more positive side which is hiding out somewhere inside me.

Well, I found it.

If you’ve not seen this, watch it. Angela Maier, a former teacher turned speaker gave  a TEDx talk in Des Moines about two simple words: You Matter

For me, this video, and the ensuing conversations have been that trigger to help me see things in a much more positive sustainable light. It has been amazing to watch this message slowly but sure worm it’s way through the Twitter-verse and beyond. I’ve forwarded this along to countless educators, friends and family all with the same message. Just watch it.

This message is resonating with my students this year as well. Tuesday night, there was a #smmanners chat on Twitter where Angela was a guest speaker. It was a very positive message for all, but in it, I was sent a link from Karen McMillan  (@McTeach).

This slideshare gives the message “I Matter”. How awesome is that for students?? We’ve taken that slideshare and made it part of our morning routine, reading it three times: whispering, saying, and yelling the message. We leave the room smiling, happy, and ready to face the day outside of our room.

My students proved yesterday they got it in the most amazing way. One of the things Karen mentioned was the idea of “Hope notes” and “You Matter notes” which are left secretly for people to find. Well, we talked about this on Wednesday to see if they be interested, which they were. But as I walked in on Thursday, I found out just how interested they were:

Found on my desk Thursday morning.

Needless to say, I was floored. So, I took a picture, and tweeted this out to a few people including Angela. Eventually, she tweeted back:

” this absolutely made my day! #youmatter tell every student today! 🙂 ”

We have a class twitter account, and I’ve showed my students my professional account as well, so they know about what Twitter is and how it’s realtime communication. They were very in awe that this person would tweet back to say that about the random act of kindness that one student did. But Angela did one better, she retweeted our post to her network. Now, understand we are in small rural school in Iowa. Not many of my students have experience with “large” groups of people, so what I did was to show them the email about the retweet. Angela is a rockstar, and has a large network, and when my students say that the act of one person was shared with literally thousands of people, that when they realized their actions can truly change the world. One child has that ability when put in the right place at the right now.

Now, I won’t ever stop being pessimistic. The market tanks, my lawn needs mowing, a student came in without breakfast, there are too many things not to weigh me down. But I can look you in the eye and say that I’ll be the most positive pessimist that you’ll ever come across, thanks to the power of my students and two words: You Matter