What happens when you truly matter and the secret to a longer life
By Marcel Ollmann
TeachersConnect is working with teachers on a user research project focusing on discovering what drives teachers in their daily lives and what challenges they experience in their professional careers. We have been performing this research primarily to inform our product development process—to ensure that we provide value and utility to teachers on a consistent basis.
One of the common threads exposed in our research is that teachers often feel their work isn’t valued by others and that a major motivating force in their lives is that they want to know that they matter and their work matters. Young teachers, in particular, want to prove they have something to offer other teachers.
Some of the comments made by teachers about their work not being valued included:
- “The team I used to teach with made me feel like what I was doing was silly.”
- “Nobody used anything that I or the other new teachers suggested. It was almost like they didn’t take us seriously.”
- “Nobody in my school listens to me. I try to talk to them about my ideas but they’re not interested.”
When it comes to changing someones sense of self worth and value, sharing is an important factor. Getting feedback from others that value their work and contributions provides teachers with the tangible evidence required to foster their sense of significance.
At a deeper level, feeling significant solidifies a teachers sense of purpose and has a direct effect on their happiness, motivation and lifespan. In a study (http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/7/1482) conducted by Carleton University and the University of Rochester Medical Center, scientists found that a greater purpose in life consistently predicted lower mortality risk across all age levels.
One teacher told us about how she begins her courses by taking her students through a series of activities that teach them that “you matter.” Once she has her students grounded in this belief in themselves and in each other, she can take them more easily and deeply into a more solo, digital experience.
This particular teacher gets a similar sense that she “matters” from her own engagement with the online movement started by Angela Maiers (http://www.angelamaiers.com), which centers on the belief that “you are a genius and the world needs your contribution.”
“ We were created for significance. It’s in our DNA – we need air, we need water, we need food, and we need to know that we matter – that someone, somewhere in the world, needs exactly what only we can give.” – Angela Maiers
When teachers were given positive feedback on their contributions, their responses included the following:
- “I share my stuff—I want to feel useful, like I’m contributing.”
- “When other people use the stuff I’ve built, I know I’m valued.”
- “Giving help gives me a chance to act with a certainty and confidence.”
- “I was proud to share my method because it felt innovative. It made me feel like I was really hip to the newest pedagogical methods.”
- “Now I feel like I can claim all sorts of things about who I am and what I can do.”
TeachersConnect aims to provide a place for teachers to share their work and experiences with their colleagues in order to increase the opportunities to get feedback on them. Our aim is to make it easier for teachers to get tangible evidence of their significance from others—that people value their contributions and that every single teacher matters.
By using smartly designed feedback tools and user configurable notifications, TeachersConnect provides teachers with experiences that communicate their value and allow them to acknowledge the value that others provide—in relevant, meaningful and timely ways.
Do you feel that your work isn’t valued by others? Do you want to feel like you and your contributions matter? Are you looking to share experiences and feedback with other teachers to help foster your sense of purpose? Click here to stay informed of our progress and get early access to the TeachersConnect.
Marcel Ollmann has been involved in teaching and learning for most of his life. A fully trained and road-tested teacher, he also has over 20 years experience in website design and coding, as well as sales and marketing. In the last 14 years he has been intimately involved in the startup space. He has an obsession for the place where ideas and technology intersect to solve real world problems.