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Looking for a shot in the arm, a hand on your back, or a reason to celebrate your choice to be a teacher? There are many inspirational people working in education today to choose from, and many of them have been featured in education TED Talks, addressing a range of subjects such as curriculum, creativity, educational equality, and more.
Here are four of my current favorite education TED Talks. Each one speaks to a different topic that I find captivating and inspiring as a teacher and educator.
I've had the pleasure of meeting and hearing Pedro Noguera speak a number of times. He's a powerhouse filled with stories that bring up the issues of educational inequality and the priorities that educators should be addressing right now. He clearly explains modern education's issues and shows how the simplest step to reckoning these issues is asking different questions. Listen to him ask how to increase engagement instead of achievement. Watch him show how schools that have been successful in encouraging student engagement have done so through strong teacher-student relationships.
Noguera demonstrates clearly that for our education system to be successful, we need to listen to those who know best: successful, experienced teachers. The story he shares about the veteran teacher is one I have repeated many times (I won't spoil it for you!). He has been in the fight for fair education for all children as long as anyone. If you want to feel inspired, watch Pedro and then read his work—he'll get you fired up.
Further reading: Education Conferences Are a Great Place for Teachers to Grow
Ken Robinson's TED Talk about creativity is funny, engaging, and wise, and worth watching more than once. Each time I watch it, I learn something different, from how to recognize the creative genius in my students to how to foster a positive environment in the classroom that encourages creative expression and risk-taking. Watch the entire video or just a segment, and you are sure to walk away not only laughing out loud but feeling inspired.
Kiran Sethi speaks to the truth about encouraging relevant, "real" experiences for students. The work she's done and her use of "contagious" experiences will encourage any educator to take their current curriculum and tweak it to encourage students to think about the world around them. In Sethi's case, her students took their classroom-developed beliefs to the street. This video will motivate any teacher, principal, or parent, and shows the power kids gain when they feel empowered to develop their own beliefs and opinions and bring them to their greater community.
What makes Rita so fun to watch is that you feel like she's telling you a story at a lunch break at school. Approachable, confident, funny, and honest, her short talk is 100 percent genuine. I can mine this video for many different gems, but the one that hit me as most important (at least right now) is the need for teachers to learn to apologize to their students. Rita knows she should have known the curriculum—all teachers must—but the humility she shows is important for all teachers to implement into their daily practice.
Further reading: 5 Keys to Establishing a Healthy Teacher-Student Relationship