Thanks, Teacher!

To start the school year, we’re highlighting a fascinating education-related TED talk, and looking at what speakers can learn from the examples set by the best teachers out there.

Are you looking for inspiration to become a more effective speaker? Think back to your childhood, and remember the best teachers you ever had. We expect you’ll remember at least SOME of them as great communicators.

Since the new school year is underway across the country, we’d like to honor all the teachers out there who present to groups of students—from pre-school to college—daily. Teachers, by necessity, have to make hundreds of important presentations. Imagine all of the great presentations that will happen in classrooms around us, as teachers at all levels:

  • Explain fractions by cutting up pieces of fruit;
  • Help students understand how an eclipse can really cause total darkness for two minutes;
  • Teach about the life cycle of salmon who swim upriver to lay their eggs;
  • Show how the founders of our country envisioned a government full of checks and balances;
  • Enlighten lecture hall of students about how economics affects their lives;
  • Train a group of aspiring medical professionals about when to use a promising new procedure.

To help illustrate how teachers change lives, we call your attention to Rita Pierson, an educator who delivered a TED talk entitled “Every Kid Needs a Champion,” in which she spoke about how she spent her “entire life either at the schoolhouse, on the way to the schoolhouse, or talking about what happens in the schoolhouse.” In her inspirational presentation, she shows the audience how teachers can make enormous impacts by communicating to their students in creative and positive ways. (Be sure to listen as she tells about how she graded a paper of a boy who got 18 of 20 answers wrong by giving him a “+2 with a smiley face.”)

Make note of Ms. Pierson’s passion as she talks about teaching. You’ll notice it in her facial expression, her vocal variety and her ability to share funny and thought-provoking stories. Think about the best teachers you had along the way, and appreciate the opportunities you’ll get to meet the ones who will be teaching your children (or grandchildren) this coming year.

And let them all inspire you the next time you get a chance to speak to an audience!

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