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 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.