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Students at a concert

Students at a concert

Videos are some of the most effective teacher tools for motivating students in the classroom.

Freshmen students often struggle with the transition from middle school to high school, and I want to ensure that my students are inspired to work hard, be kind to each other, be present, and make a difference. That's why I'm a huge fan of motivational videos for students. I think they have a powerful impact, and my students agree. These five videos have proven to be enormously successful in my classroom.

Son Pays Off Parents' Mortgage

This video of a son who pays off his parents' mortgage for Christmas is my all-time fave, and it really makes a strong, long-lasting impact on my students. This young man, a graduate of the University of California and successful app developer, presented his parents with a small envelope. Inside was a drawing of a box with three items checked off (raising kids, college loans, mortgage), a bank receipt, and a note saying "Your house is paid off. Merry Xmas. - Joe." When my students see this video, they yearn to do the same, and they know the pathway to doing so is through hard work, education, and pursuing a career.

One Night, Three Homecoming Queens

Comedian and TV host Ellen DeGeneres makes a point of asking her audience to be kind to one another, and these three high school students took that advice to heart. Homecoming is big in Texas, but when Anahi Alvarez and Naomi Martinez heard that some of their classmates were playing a cruel prank on their classmate, Lillian, by telling her she was nominated for homecoming queen when she wasn't, they vowed to make things right. Anahi and Naomi, the actual nominees, agreed to give the crown to Lillian if either of them won, and that's just what happened. These two young women set a great example for all young people.

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Boy without Home Becomes a Basketball Star

I'm a big fan of broadcast journalist Steve Hartman, and I find his video segments to be very inspirational. This is one of my favorites. Caleb Swanson weighed 360 pounds in 8th grade, and for most of his life he was homeless. Then Roosevelt Barnes adopted him. When Caleb told Roosevelt that he wanted to play basketball, "Roosevelt didn't lower Caleb's expectations. He raised them." Caleb went on to become an Academic All-American, and he's one of the top college basketball players in the country—with a 3.3 grade point average to boot!

Barista Goes the Extra Mile

This is another from Steve Hartman. It shows a young barista who cared enough to learn American sign language so she could communicate with a regular customer who is deaf. Crystal went above and beyond for Ibby, and I'd like my students to do the same in their lives.

Teen Gets Accepted to Cornell

Even though my students will be freshmen, I like to remind them of the bigger picture, and the fact that one day, many of them will be where this young man is, waiting to hear from a college. In order to have this moment of satisfaction, students need to know that they must challenge themselves with the courses they take, take leadership roles in clubs, sports, and activities, complete community service, and get good grades. They must also use social media responsibly. It's all worth it for a payoff like the one in this video.

These videos are short and sweet, but they provide a great platform for discussion with younger students, and I usually show one a week during the first month of school. Motivational videos for students can lift their spirits and provide strong examples of success and kindness for them to emulate.