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Home » My Journey To A Grace-Filled Classroom: Laurie Roberts (Transcript)

My Journey To A Grace-Filled Classroom: Laurie Roberts (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Laurie Roberts’ talk titled “My Journey To A Grace-Filled Classroom” at TEDxWarm Springs Ave Youth conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


“I’m on your side.” It’s a scary thing to say to a room full of strangers. Say to a class of 17 and 18 year olds, and you may see a few rolled eyes, a few awkward glances. But each year on the first day of school, I begin with these words. “Good morning, I’m Miss Roberts, and I’m on your side.”

And without fail, mixed in with a few awkward glances, I see students leaning forward in their seats with looks of hope. “Maybe she really means it,” their faces seem to say.

The Foundation of Learning

We know from the work of Maslow that humans have basic survival needs: air, food, water, sleep. They need to be satisfied before our higher needs can flourish. Just above those survival needs on Maslow’s hierarchy comes the need for safety and belonging. And once those needs are satisfied, well, that’s where learning and creativity can happen.

Simply put, we don’t learn well if we don’t feel safe. And so, I’ve been on a mission to make my room a safe place for my students, to let them know every day, “I’m on your side.”

A Teacher’s Journey

I began my career as a high school English teacher in the fall of 1988, and like most teachers, I wanted to be good at my job. I wanted to know my content, and I wanted to improve my skills. That first year, one day, I had a conversation with a couple of ninth grade boys in the hallway, and a colleague was standing nearby. As the boys walked away, my colleague approached me and she said, “You’re good at that. You like them?” She hadn’t seen me teach them, just talk to them.

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