How Big is Your Brave? – Angela Maiers, USA
There is a reason that Angela Maiers is recognized as one of today’s most influential education bloggers, social media activists and education thought leaders: her work resonates with teachers, school leaders, students and parents alike. It’s not hard to understand why, since her mantra (and she’s not afraid to shout it) is EVERYONE MATTERS. And when you are with Maiers, make no mistake, it is very clear that you do matter.
As founder of the Choose2Matter movement, Maiers started a global movement that challenges and inspires students to work collaboratively to develop innovative solutions to social problems. Students tackle authentic, real-world problems and learn the skills needed to compete in today’s world. As part of this movement, Maiers has a very direct message for educators: Teachers Matter.
At this year’s Microsoft Education Empowered E2 Conference, Maiers delivered the closing keynote, “How Big is Your Brave?”. Not surprisingly, she focused on the importance of bravery, leadership and courage. And true to her unique and authentic style, she delivered.
“…After witnessing how brave all of these educators – from 104 different countries and cultures – were in sharing their genius at this conference, I knew that I could not be the only voice in the closing keynote,” says Maiers. “I asked them to stand up and share their experience. Most speakers would have been reluctant to take a chance on something that seemingly had an uncertain outcome – but I trusted the bravery of these educators, and their tremendous desire to impact others, and I knew they would be eager to share their story. My only regret was that eventually I had to take back the microphone before I could let each and every one of them speak.”
To say that Maiers blew the E2 crowd away would be an understatement. It is an honor to present today’s Daily Edventure with the inimitable Angela Maiers. Enjoy!
What inspired you to become an educator? I attended the University of Iowa and studied mostly sciences. I was weeks away from graduating and studying to take the MCATs so I could attend medical school. During my college years, I worked at a daycare center, an in-home facility for autistic adolescents, and as a part- time intern at the child psychiatric center of the University’s hospital. I also ended up babysitting and tutoring the children of the professors I worked with or had for class. One day, one such professor demanded to know why I planned to go to medical school. When my first, second and third answers failed to include the words, “because I want to be a doctor,” the professor told me that never before had he met someone who was so clearly meant to teach children. A year later, I was teaching a kindergarten class.
What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest?
It’s hard to know that you’re having a “defining moment” when you’re in it; it only becomes clear with years of hindsight. In my first year of teaching, I thought my role was to help fulfill the needs of my students, their families, and the community. About a year later, I had an epiphany – people don’t want to feel needy, they want to feel needed. I began to refuse to accept that 80 percent of my parents could not find time to attend a conference with me to learn how they could help me better help their kids learn. I called every parent and offered alternative times to meet me in school, and if that didn’t work, I went to visit them in their homes or workplaces.
I then began to invite parents to visit the classroom each Friday, to help me teach their children to read. There was a lot of resistance at first, but before too long we had near 100 percent attendance. If you were a parent and could not make a particular Friday, you sent someone else in your place, or else you heard it from your community over the weekend. Everyone wants – no, needs – to matter, and it’s a lesson I’ve taken with me everywhere I’ve gone since.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?
Students should use the same tools in school that employees use in the workplace. We don’t know what devices, software and social media tools people will be using in the workplace when today’s students enter the workforce. However, we do know that there will be “rules of the road” and underlying philosophical and strategic underpinnings that will be very difficult to learn unless students start now, by learning appropriate and effective use of today’s tools.
What’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?
The biggest obstacle in the United States – and almost everywhere else – is the “but this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality, and the “crab bucket culture” in which those who seek new heights must overcome being pulled down by everyone else. I see a very encouraging shift, though. I published Classroom Habitudes in 2008 and Passion Driven Classroom in 2010, and gave my YouMatter TEDx talk in 2011. While all were well received initially, interest in these topics is exploding in 2015. Leaders, educators, parents and community members are beginning to understand the importance of bringing passion back to learning, and creating authentic learning experiences.
What are you most excited about for the future? What is your biggest hope for today’s students?
I see a future in which students do work that matters; in which collaboration displaces competition; and in which the contribution of every student, and indeed everyone in the community, is noticed, valued and honored.
Educator, Author, Speaker and Founder, Choose2Matter
Castle Rock, Colorado, USA
- Blog URL: www.AngelaMaiers.com/blog and www.Choose2Matter.org
- Birthplace: Shell Rock, Iowa, USA
- Educational background: University of Iowa, BA in Education, MA in Educational Supervision and Reading
- Website I check every day: All of the social media sites – my network brings the best of the web to me every day.
- Favorite childhood memory: Every single minute I spent with my “Mema” and “Pepa” – my maternal grandparents.
- Favorite book: Good to Great, by Jim Collins
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: My favorite part of Microsoft is its heart. It truly “gets” educators and is actively partnering with them to provide the tools educators and students need to meet their learning objectives.
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Follow your passion. In my definition, passion is what you must do, and are willing to suffer to do.