Author Archives: McTeach

Happy New Year!

We can not do great things. We can only do little things with great love.

~Mother Theresa

The First of January is traditionally the day when we all make plans to change various aspects of our lives, hoping that the end result of these changes will be increased happiness. Before you read any further, please take a moment to remember all of the New Year’s Resolutions that you followed through on to reach happiness.

That didn’t take long, did it?

Why don’t we try something new this year? Rather than wait for our own happiness to find us after we lose weight, organize the den closet, pay off all our debt, and write the Great American Novel, let’s make sure that the people we care most about experience happiness. It only takes two words.

You Matter Day

To get 2012 started off right, let’s make January 1st a You Matter Day! Take a few moments, perhaps while you’re watching football, to write a note, tweet, or text message to someone who made a difference in your life in 2011. Let them know you noticed and that they made a difference in your life; let them know that they matter. It may seem like such a simple thing, so simple as to have virtually no impact. But I would invite you to remember that it really is the little things in life that hold the most value for us in the long run.

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.

~Marian Wright Edelman

If you have people in your life who make your world a better place, it’s time to let them know! It’s as easy as saying, “You Matter!”


If you post your message on Twitter, please be sure to use the hashtag #YouMatterDay.


A #YouMatter Day

Today would have been my grandparents’ 72nd wedding anniversary. While my grandfather passed away a few years ago, Gram is still alive, kicking, and playing Bingo back east in Maine. To honor both of them on their special day, I’ve decided that today should be a #YouMatter day.

Here’s the idea: Take a moment or two (or twenty) today and tell at least one person why they matter to you. You can say it to them in person, privately, or in a very public forum like Twitter. Here’s a #YouMatter note to my friend Lee Kolbert that I just shared:

If my grandparents followed me on Twitter, I would share with the world why they have always been two of the most important people in my life:

Won’t you join me? Help change the world today, one note, tweet, or hug at a time! If you post your #YouMatter note to Twitter, please be sure to use the #YouMatter hashtag. And if there’s room in your tweet, please add #youmatterday also. If there isn’t room, would you be willing to share a link to your #YouMatter tweet in a comment to this post? If you’re not on Twitter, then please feel free to add your #YouMatter note in the comments here also.

Happy #YouMatterDay!

Happy Anniversary, Gram and Gramps! I love you both!!


You Matter!

It is a basic human need to know that we have value, to know that we matter. So why do so many people in this world spend so much energy trying to convince others that they do not matter? Do they truly feel that if they make another person feel smaller somehow that they will make themselves feel bigger? That they will somehow matter more?

That’s not how it works. To feel of value, you must contribute to the worth of the human spirit. And to do that, you must help raise up those others who feel they have less value than you.

My students and I have decided to do just that. We are taking a simple concept – passing notes – and putting it to work to change lives and to change the world!

A "You Matter" Note

A couple of years ago, I started a project with my students that we called Hope Notes. You can read more about that project at A Hope-Full Year. The idea was simple: create a note with a simple message of hope and leave it somewhere for another person to find. Here is a Hope Note that I left a while back:

After getting my hair done one day, I was heading out to the parking lot when I noticed this elderly woman getting out of her car. She moved very slowly from her car up to the salon where she must have had an appointment, but I waited until she was out of sight. As soon as she was gone, I walked over and left this note where she would be sure to see it when she returned. I really wanted to stay and see her reaction to one of my first Hope Notes, but I had another appointment to get to.

Looking at that note now makes me smile as I realize that this Hope Note could also be a You Matter note!

So, why have we changed our notes to You Matter notes? That idea came to me several weeks ago after watching my friend Angela Maiers’ TED Talk, You Matter. You really must watch it:

After watching this, I knew I would find a way to incorporate Angela’s message into the new school year. On the first day of school I told my new students that one of my goals as their teacher is to make sure they never leave my classroom without knowing that they matter. They matter to me, they matter to their families and friends, they matter to their classmates and school. But they also need to believe that they matter! So I started having them do a “repeat after me”, even going so far as to create a powerpoint to share the words I wanted to hear them say.

I have to say I absolutely love hearing the kids repeat these words in unison! After listening to them one day, the thought occurred to me: We need to share this feeling! I remembered our Hope Notes from a few years ago and decided to introduce the idea to my new students as You Matter notes.
The Guidelines. Each note will include the words “You Matter” on one side of the note. Students can add a favorite quote or phrase as well as some color and/or decorations. On the other side of the note will be the URL to this website. We hope that people who find our notes will find their way here and leave us a message. And then we hope they’ll take that note and leave it somewhere else…we all need to know we matter!
After making their notes, students will leave their notes out in the community where others might find them. It can be anywhere: their favorite fast food restaurant, the neighborhood park, library book shelves, or perhaps a shelf in a local supermarket.
How would you feel if you found one of these notes while you were out running errands? Or sitting alone on a park bench?
If my students are half as excited about this project as I am, this will be amazing! Care to join us?