Tag Archives: motivation

Graduation Inspiration

As graduation season rolls around once again, I thought I would compile a list of videos that I’ve found over the years that eloquently describe the hopes and dreams I have for my students in the future. I’ve placed the length of each video beside it.  Not all of these are graduation speeches, but they all give one or more of the following messages: Be Kind, Work Hard, and Make the Most of Your Time and Abilities.  Most of these videos (and many more) can be found on my “Inspirational Videos for Students” Pinterest Board.  As always, please preview any video before you show it to your students.

graduation

Thoughts on Kindness from George Saunders (2:12)

Making It from StoryCorps (2:43)

If You’ve Never Failed, You’ve Never Lived (1:16)

Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Award Speech (4:40), Ashton Kutcher on his Teen Choice Speech (3:15) – better for older students

The Time You Have in Jellybeans (2:44)

212: The Extra Degree Inspirational Movie (2:59)

Kid President Graduation Speech (4:12)

The Real Purpose of Your Life (2:18)

These last two are my all-time favorite videos to show departing students:

Jeff Bezos at Princeton (18:44 – his part starts around 6:27)

Mark Bezos: A Life Lesson from a Volunteer Firefighter (4:40)

For more resources, Amy Borovoy curated a wonderful list last May for Edutopia. You can find it here.

Keep Going

Keep Going” is a good video to show that encourages the Growth Mindset.  It is filmed in Lego stop-motion, although adults are the target audience.  Students in 3rd grade and up will understand the message, particularly if you have already been talking about mindsets in class.  I also like that it fits in nicely with the maker ed mantra from Sylvia Libow-Martinez and Gary Stager of, “Think, Make, Improve.”

If you have ever thought about “the terrible gap between what you wanted to do and what you’ve actually done,” then this video will speak to you.  It applies to any attempts we make to achieve a vision, whether as a student, a worker, a spouse, a parent, or any other role in which we have some creative control over the outcome.  We should take any opportunity we receive to revise our first draft instead of walking away in defeat.

recite-1q10tiu

 

Here are some more inspirational videos for teachers and for students. I also have a Growth Mindset Pinterest board here.

Watch Out for Those Pebbles

It’s testing week in our neck of the woods and you can see the stress in the eyes of teachers and students.  It’s difficult to be happy to come to school on days like these.

While going through some of my older posts, I ran across one that I wrote my first year of blogging on the Mini Motivation website.  I had completely forgotten this site existed.  So, I spent 20 minutes refreshing the page to get as much motivation as I could.  Here is one of my favorite quotes that was new to me:

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 9.22.10 PM

If you decide to use the site in your classroom (although you probably can’t do that during testing), I would advise you find a quote first before sharing it with the class on the “big screen.”  It’s possible you may discover one that you don’t find appropriate for your particular audience.

I have more quotations (with prettier graphics) on this Pinterest Board.  And, don’t forget this link to Inspirational Videos for Teachers the next time you need a pick-me-up :)

District Twitter Chats

A couple of weeks ago some of the librarians in our district sent out an idea for a district Twitter chat for our students.  They included a great form that we could use for the students to fill out. I had just participated in a professional chat a few days before, hosted by Todd Nesloney, about creating a positive school culture.  In fact, Todd’s recent #EduLS challenge was to celebrate someone. So, the third prompt on the Twitter sheet appealed to me, “Give a Shout Out to a Teacher!”

As the GT teacher, I have students from all grade levels, so I thought this would be a great opportunity for my classes to perform a random act of kindness for potentially every staff member in the school.

My younger students dictated their Tweets to me, while older students wrote their own and then tweeted them from our class account once I approved them.

Knowing that not many teachers follow our class account, I’ve been collecting the Tweets in Storify each day, and mailing the link to the teachers included in that day’s accolades.  All of the students were allowed to choose who got the shout outs, and most of them chose to recognize two or three staff members each.

Twitter Shoutout

I am trying to encourage the students to name something specific they remember about the person, rather than just saying, “You’re nice.”  It’s been gratifying to see that they are happy to include all staff members – not just classroom teachers.

I want to thank Irene Kistler(@IreneKistler) and Sara Romine (@laffinglibrary) for spreading this idea.  I believe Irene is the author of Twitter Paper.  When I asked her if I could share the idea, she pointed me to a very cool website that inspired her.  It is called KidsEdChatNZ, and has fabulous prompts for their New Zealand student participants each week.

It appears that the New Zealand chat happens at a weekly scheduled time.  However, I think that doing this as a “slow chat” was great so that we could get more participants.

If you are interested, you might also want to check out the “S.C.A.M.P.E.R.” Twitter Chat with students that we did in February.

 

More Growth Mindset Resources

Albert Einstein Quote

 

As you may have gathered from yesterday’s “Flappy Bird” post, I am trying very hard to maintain a Growth Mindset, and to foster this thinking in my daughter and students. One of my favorite bloggers, Sonya Terborg, also talks about encouraging a Growth Mindset in her classroom.  One of her ideas, in this post, is to add a Growth Mindset quote to any printed work that she hands out to her students.  Sonya links to this fabulous set of quotes that includes some from Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset.  Sonya also gives examples of some statements that communicate learning goals and expectations that she found on the MindSetWorks site.  In a separate post, Sonya discusses “Developing a Growth Mindset in an Inquiry Based Math Class.”  I love the way she leads up to a weekly math challenge for her students.

Here are some other recent resources I’ve collected about cultivating a Growth Mindset:

“How Not to Raise a Quitter” by Dr. Michele Borba

“Teaching Persistence: How to Develop Student Stamina” by Norene Wiesen

“Impact of Mindset on Teaching and Learning” by Drew Frank

 

If You’ve Never Failed, You’ve Never Lived

from the video below
from this motivational video

It’s fun to look at the stats for this blog to get an idea of what interests people.  By far, some of my most popular posts are the ones that list some of my favorite inspirational videos for teachers and for students.  Of course, that has motivated me to continue to keep looking for more videos; obviously people are hungry for any kind of spark they can find to encourage themselves and others.

I recently came across the video embedded below, and thought it would go well with a discussion about mindsets.  Each of the people cited in the video displayed a Growth Mindset when faced with obstacles.  Do your students know each name and his or her story?  Can your students name more people who should be added?  Can your students give examples of times they, themselves,  overcame failure?

Find Your Voice as a Teacher

Start-with-Voice

The other day, I came to the sudden realization that I am the worst teacher ever.

Actually, it wasn’t so sudden.  I’ve suspected it many times over my decades-long career.  Coincidentally, these moments often occur when I am at a meeting with other teachers who share awesome ideas they are using in their own classrooms.

I usually try to counter these incidences of self-doubt by thinking of some of the not-so-great teachers I had as a child.  “At least you don’t do that,” I remind myself, recalling the Biology teacher who spent entire class periods espousing his religious beliefs.

But then I think of the teacher who’s entire class raised thousands of dollars for a charity, or people like Principal Salome Thomas-El who championed inner city kids to becoming chess champions.  “You don’t do that, either,” I tell myself glumly.

One of the advantages of being a connected educator is that you learn of great things that teachers are doing all over the world.

One of the pitfalls of being a connected educator is that you learn of great things that teachers are doing all over the world.

Yesterday, TechNinja Todd (@TechNinjaTodd) posted a fabulous article that addresses this horrible self-criticism that many of us suffer from.  Todd Nesloney, who will be going to the White House as a “Champion of Change”, wrote, “I am Me, and I Can’t Be You“, in which he fully admits that he has days that he feels like he isn’t doing such a great job – especially when comparing himself to some of the other fabulous educators he wants to emulate.

But Todd realized something, which I have learned as well.   The common thread among effective teachers isn’t that they are all doing the same thing with their students.  The common thread is that they are all using their own unique strengths to help their students make the best of their own unique strengths.

A few years ago, I decided to work on pursuing a personal goal of becoming a writer.  I wrote every day, and hated it.  The words were stilted and uninspiring.  I dreaded writing.  And then I realized it wasn’t working because I was trying to write like the authors I admired.  I was trying to write something that wasn’t me.

I have returned to a love of writing because I returned to my own voice.  Of course, if you read my stories, you would probably recognize some of the great authors who have influenced me over the years – just like, if you visit my classroom you would see some of the amazing teachers who have inspired me since elementary school (some of them have even been fictional). But you’re also going to find elements that reflect my own personality.  And, in the case of my classroom, it will be infused with the personalities of my students.

When we teach, we must use our own voice.  If we are not passionate about our teaching, I guarantee less learning will take place.  The true miracles happen in the classroom when our voices join together with our students’, and the result is a fantastic story that has never before been told.