Two Words For Every Educator’s Tool Kit

Regardless of your role in education, there are two words that need to be in your tool kit:  #YouMatter!  The hashtag was started by Angela Maiers and you can read more about her mission here.  I’ve never met Angela Maiers (#yet), but an #EduHero in my district, Brendan Fetters, has and he’s posted reflections here and here.  I’ve loved reading Brendan’s posts and Tweets that involve Angela and the #YouMatter movement because it gives me hope that the ripple in the pond will one day grow into a tidal wave of awesomeness in our little part of the world.  While Angela and Brendan continue to inspire me, I want to give a special shout out to Jillian Burkhart, Kindergarten teacher in Texas, for introducing me to #YouMatter.  I’m pretty sure I met Jillian in a Twitter chat, probably #LearnLAP, about 2 summers ago.  At the time, she was a 2nd-grade teacher, and had #YouMatter in her profile banner.  I asked her a question about it and she told me all about Angela Maiers and how she [Burkhart] used these two powerful words with her kiddos.  Most of the time, educators respond to questions from other educators on Twitter, but not always.  Thankfully, Jillian did and that one Twitter conversation has forever changed my teaching world and everyone in it!

On June 28, 2017, Angela tweeted and Jillian retweeted:

#TwitterTip:  You are 140 chara away from an interaction that can change ur life, learning, world–don’t stop tweeting! #iste17

I’m hoping I remember this correctly: Jillian shared that she would write special #YouMatter messages to her students and have them take turns writing #YouMatter reasons to classmates.  At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, I used the LadyBug’s Teacher File’s editable labels and Kevin and Amanda’s Wish I Were Taller font to create these two hashtags to display in our room.  From Meet the Teacher on that 2015 day in August and for our next 2 years together, they were the foundation for everything we did together as a classroom community.  So when I created a class Twitter account, these became part of our profile.  

At the beginning of the school year, I used this goal setting idea shared from my teammate, Mrs. Shuford Blaine:  Students would use the outline to color themselves as successful students and write goals for the year in the white space.  These were posted in our room for the entire school year while more current pieces of work might be temporarily displayed via clothespin over them.  I’d tweet out a birthday wish on their birthdays:

A little later in the Fall, we made a poster for our custodian, Mr. On and left it hanging in a prominent place in the room.  Notice, we took some liberties here and added ‘2Us’ to #YouMatter.  Students wrote individual messages explaining why Mr. On mattered on Post-Its:

At the end of the semester, we learned one of our classmates was transferring to another school so we made him a #YouMatter poster:

For Valentine’s Day that first year, we put a tiny twist on #YouMatter in the following activity:  I created a ‘fictitious’ Twitter handle for every student in the class.  For example, Ginny Smith became @GinnyS 🙂  Our hashtag was #YouMatter2Us.  I made a large construction paper poster for each student in our class:  @GinnyS #YouMatter2Us @Chapman3rdGrade.  We took turns rotating to each classmate’s poster and writing why that person mattered to us.  Below are Tweets I sent out later that evening.  [Couple of ‘funny’ notes:  The heat wasn’t working in our classroom that day, but we were determined to make the learning happen and worked as a team to get everything we needed including the extras for our Valentine’s Day experience together to our temporary space.  If you’ve read Starbucks My PD Please, the photos are actually the best ‘befores’ I have since this is the room where we would meet as a grade-level for our PLTs and Planning Days before our principal and two fellow staff members made some magic happen here! Finally, our official handle at the time was @Chapman3rdGrade.  When we looped up together for the 2016-2017 school year, I just changed our handle to @Chapman4thGrade.]

We put yet another twist on the #YouMatter message right before the End of Grade state testing.  Third Grade is the first time students take this test in North Carolina and despite being “low key” in our room, they can be nervous for many different reasons.  We made #IMatter posters to take home with us and place somewhere special.  Here’s the link to the gallery on our class website, if you’d like to see more. 

This was such a hit in 3rd that we did it in 4th Grade again right before state testing.  We had donated Behr paint chips courtesy of Home Depot and numerous parents in both classes that brought them in.  Instead of posters, we made individual #IMatter books.  The idea is the same except we generally used each shade on the chip to bullet a reason.  When finished, we added a hole punch in the top left corner of each ‘page’, thread a section of ribbon through the holes, tied a bow, and voila! Students took them home and put them on a nightstand, tucked them under the pillow for a couple of evenings, etc.  The really cool thing about doing the #IMatter books this way is that students figured out they could always add to them whenever they want to:  All they need is some more paint chips, a hole punch, and maybe a longer piece of ribbon!  It was so much fun hearing them planning different times to do so…next year in 5th, again in middle school… 🙂

We did the #YouMatter posters again with both classes (50 students) as part of our Learning ‘Til the #LastBell.  Again, we started with a large piece of construction paper.  This time around, students wrote their own name and #YouMatter.  We rotated through each poster to write a special message on each classmate’s poster to let them know why they mattered.

We didn’t do the #YouMatter posters for each other on Valentine’s Day this year in 4th Grade; however, we did leave #YouMatter messages to each other during that week and made #YouMatter posters (not pictured) for our school counselors, our team teacher, and Mr. On.

One of the absolute coolest things we’ve done together over our two years together was during the Valentine’s Day Learning Experience planned by our two room moms this school year.  They brought in supplies and guided the class in making cards for Senior Citizens at a nearby center.  There was a point where we were trying to brainstorm messages to put inside of our cards and somewhere in the brainstorm #YouMatter was suggested!  Subsequently, several students included the #YouMatter message in their cards!  Goosebumps!  #YouMatter officially went beyond the ‘walls’ of our school and into the community!

And all of this has happened in our little part of the world because Jillian Burkhart from Texas shared the #YouMatter message on her Twitter profile and took the time to explain it to me!  Remember Angela Maiers’ Tweet from June 28, 2017…

#TweetTip: You are 140 chara away from an interaction that can change ur* life, learning, world–don’t stop tweeting! #iste2017


Whether you are tweeting, instagramming, facebooking, and/or blogging, don’t stop sharing!  Never, ever underestimate:

“The Power of One” – Manny Scott

Thank you Jillian for helping me become a better educator for 72 of our #FutureWorldLeaders…and counting 🙂  #YouMatter2Us @Chapman3rdGrade @Chapman4thGrade!

2 thoughts on “Two Words For Every Educator’s Tool Kit

  1. You would love Angela, and she would love YOU! You’ve got to meet her some day – she’s the real deal. Thank you for sharing this post – YOU matter!

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