My Favorite TED Talks for Educators

One of the big items on my Bucket List was to be a part of a TED Talk audience. I am fascinated by every single speaker I have seen on the TED website and knew I wanted to be a part of that energy.

Two years ago, I got my wish at TEDxMileHigh in Denver. It was the greatest way to spend the weekend; I left intrigued, inspired, emotionally exhausted but also uplifted... it was perfect.

If you ever get the chance to go to one near you, bring someone you can process with. There are so many layers to each talk, it is worth revisiting over and over again!

If you aren't familiar with TED Talks, they are short (less than 20 minutes) lectures on a problem, question, or possible solution to a problem or question in our world. Speakers range from scientists, researchers, poets, teachers, religious leaders.... you name it!

What I love the most is how much of a punch these speakers can pack into such a short amount of time. Nearly any of these speeches you can watch over and over again, always gleaning new information or a different insight.

I have my favorite go-to TED Talks and wanted to share a few of them with you: both the tried-and-true, as well as some of the newer ones I'm still digesting. I hope you'll enjoy watching these for inspiration throughout your week and my fingers are crossed that you can experience one of these events live!

Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

If you know me at all, you know how much I love and adore the work of Brené Brown. I first watched this talk back in 2012 and sobbed and laughed (often at the same time) through the first hundred times I watched it. It was transformative for me, and if you haven't seen it, please, please, please do. It not only will impact your teaching, but personal relationships with others and, most importantly, yourself. Then head over to check out each of her amazing books. My favorites are Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. She is a treasure.

Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion

I recommend watching this after a bad day at school when you wonder if you're making a difference or if it's even worth it. Rita Pierson was a lifelong educator and a phenomenal speaker. She speaks the truth about the not-so-great parts of being a teacher, but directs her focus on how we positively impact students every day. Mixed in with the realities of teaching and some laughs, she describes how she inspires and leads from the classroom, changes the perspectives of students, and leaves a legacy of love. Grab some Kleenex and have a watch...

Linda Cliatt-Wayman: How to Fix a Broken School? Lead Fearlessly, Love Hard

Wow, what a principal! She is dynamic, fearless, inspirational and not afraid to do the hard things to ensure that all of her students benefit. You have to love a leader who is fiercely honest and has a clear, precise vision, especially when the students are her driving force. As a principal of a very low-performing, high-poverty school, she shares three slogans that guide her leadership. They will make you laugh, give you hope, and bring tears to your eyes. She leads with love, purpose, and pure authenticity-- you will love this one.

Carol Dweck: The Power of Believing You Can Improve

Carol Dweck is the guru behind Growth Mindset: knowing that the process of learning is more important than the product, and she champions the power of thinking "Not Yet" instead of "Can't". In such a short TED Talk, she packs in lots of research, strategies, and think abouts that will challenge your thinking, the words you use in the classroom, and how you can start to enact change tomorrow with your students. I love how she breaks down Growth Mindset and proves that it is something you can teach and develop. If you are in need of a mid-year pick-me-up, I recommend watching this and then reevaluating your next unit to see if you can implement just a strategy or two she suggests. Then, look to see how your students react to these small, but powerful changes.

Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

How many of us are extroverts? Introverts? What about our students? And how have we constructed our classroom environments for both? I am slightly more extroverted when it comes to teaching, but introverted at home and in life outside of the classroom. This TED Talk is a beautiful explanation of life as an introvert, and how we as teachers, admin, and policymakers have typically created classrooms and learning environments geared toward the more extroverted students. I appreciate all of her research and the real-life strategies we can implement to ensure that every student, whether they be extroverts, introverts, or ambiverts, can thrive in our class.

. . .

Those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to inspiring TED Talks, believe me! My original list had over twenty and I struggled to narrow it down to only five. I highly recommend visiting the TED website and clicking through the thousands of talks on every topic you can possibly imagine.

What is a TED Talk you would add to this list?

Happy viewing!


    This is an incredibly powerful TED talk that everyone should watch if they haven't already done so. However, even if you have, you should watch again as a good reminder!

    1. I love, love, love her!! Thank you so much for the additional recommendation. I couldn't agree more!