12 Must-See TED Talks for Teachers

These videos changed the way I think about teaching.

Must-See TED Talks for Teachers

Looking to intrigue tomorrow’s first period class? Want to connect with that student sleeping in the back row? Tasked with giving a presentation at the next professional development meeting? Hoping to reinvigorate your love of teaching?

TED may be just the inspiration you need.

TED is a nonprofit that shares cutting-edge ideas through short, engaging talks on almost any topic you can imagine: from cyborgs to growing fresh air to connecting with others. Each talk is given by a practitioner or researcher who has ample wisdom to share.

You could lose yourself for hours on TED’s website, but we both know teachers don’t have that luxury.

Here are some TED videos that helped me think deeply about my teaching practice.

1. Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your Friend


Wait. What? You mean the stacks of ungraded essays, looming grade deadlines, and unfinished unit plans won’t necessarily pressure me into an early grave? McGonigal explains how to combat the negative effects of stress with a simple change in perspective.

2. Christopher Emdin: Teach Teachers How to Create Magic

Some say you either have it or you don’t. Emdin disagrees. He demystifies the magic of the engaging teacher and makes it accessible to all of us.

3. Ramsey Musallam: 3 Rules to Spark Learning

Inspired by the surgeon who saved his life, Musallam woke up from 10 years of “pseudo-teaching” and adopted 3 practices to promote student inquiry.

4. Fawn Qiu: Easy DIY Projects for Kid Engineers

Qiu offers practical advice to teachers who need inventive, low-cost STEM projects for students of all ability levels.

5. Astro Teller: The Unexpected Benefit of Embracing Failure

How do you encourage risk-taking? Celebrate failure as a necessary part of the learning process.

6. Reshma Saujani: Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection

Saujani argues that girls are socialized to be perfect. As a result, they give up too easily. Teach them to approach challenges bravely instead.

7. Laura Vanderkam: How to Gain Control of Your Free Time

You have more free time than you think. Vanderkam offers strategies to help you find the time for the things you love.

8. Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion

In this passionate and engaging talk, Pierson argues that by connecting with your students you may help unleash their potential.

9. Eduardo Briceño: How to Get Better at the Things You Care About

Improvement stagnates despite our hard work. This is true of students and teachers alike. Alternate between the learning and performing zones in order to grow. Here’s how.

10. Dena Simmons: How Students of Color Confront Imposter Syndrome

Students learn best when they can be themselves. Simmons shares insight into how to support students of color in the classroom.

11. Carol Dweck: The Power of Believing That You Can Improve

Discover how a growth mindset can boost student achievement.

12. Stephen Ritz: A Teacher Growing Green in the South Bronx

Plenty of inspiration here. With unbridled enthusiasm, Ritz describes the urban landscaping and farming projects that helped his students build skills while improving their access to nutritious foods.

If there is not something for you in one of these videos, explore TED’s education playlists. While you are there, you can also check out the TED-ED Originals. Each customizable lesson includes an animated video to share with your class, background resources to deepen your knowledge on the topic, and questions for students.