SMC - Back to School

from apathy to engagement, for us and our students, all year long

Please note: This cohort is closed. Click here to navigate to the most recent cohort.

What would it be like if, every time you asked your students to do something, they

A) all did it, and

B) did it with care, engagement, and effort?

How much more energy, peace, and fulfillment would you have? What greater impact would your classroom have on students' lives?

Whether I'm talking to a colleague in my hallway or a group of teachers in a workshop on the other side of the country, there's one question we educators tend to have in common. This question transcends grade level, socioeconomic status, school type, and subject area. It's simply this:

How do we help all of our students care enough to do the work and do it as best they can?

I've spent the past five years of my teaching career reading, experimenting, and interviewing experts about what lies at the heart of student motivation. In the Student Motivation Course, I've put together what I hope to be a definitive answer to this problem, condensed into 35 bite-sized videos of 10 minutes or less. Below, I'll explain exactly how it works but the gist is that I get having a busy schedule -- as a classroom teacher, I have one, too. This is a PD made for working educators.

The course is built on the evidence-informed premise that, in order for our students to flourish long-term, they need to be motivated from the inside-out. Toward that goal, the Student Motivation Course explores the five key beliefs underlying student motivation:

  1. Credibility: I have a good teacher.
  2. Belonging: People like me belong in classes like this.
  3. Effort: I can improve my knowledge and skills through effort.
  4. Efficacy: I can succeed at the challenges this class presents.
  5. Value: This work matters to me.

The ideas taught inside the Student Motivation Course form the foundational chapter of my bestselling book, These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most. There's no other place in the world where I offer this in-depth, sustained, schedule-friendly PD on student motivation.

"I tell everyone about it whenever I have the chance. It is teacher-changing information."

- Norah Olig, Instructional Literacy Coach/Interventionist, WI

"I learned a lot. I think other teachers will as well!"

- Dr. Jania H., high school teacher, Dallas, TX

"This is career trajectory-altering PD."

- Sean Daigle, high school math teacher, Palm Springs, CA

"At a recent inservice, we visited with our small staff and I expressed how in the recent weeks, thinking about these five key beliefs has changed my attitude toward students and alleviated some of my ire. Unlike most inservices, these beliefs touched all teachers. Even the Pre-K teachers and coaches, who often feel as if inservices are not applicable to them, said that it made a difference and was greatly needed. "

- April Boatright, English/History teacher, Oklahoma

"...practical, simple and logical ways to effectively alter the motivation of my students."

- Kelly Garinger, junior high English teacher, South Webster, OH

"The well-paced course offers research-informed strategies, tools, and interventions that can be applied in the classroom immediately."

- Tom Windelinckx, high school teacher, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

"The course and the community provided have been so useful in sifting through what I already know and do, supplementing that, and getting better at what I am already doing but not adding more tasks. This is more philosophical and developmental, which makes it so much more worthwhile than "the next best thing."

- Rose Sabo, continuation high school teacher, CA

"The instructor deeply and extensively practices what he teaches. Dave leads us through evaluating and improving our credibility, then we all grow in belonging, effort, success/efficacy, and valuing through our ongoing study and interactions. The course provides an excellent venue for your growth whether you tend towards introversion or extroversion. This is the best PD model and method on the planet."

- John Reynolds, high school teacher, Granby, CO

How the course works

  • WATCH: Once you register, you get immediate access to every video in the course -- including a special intro video where I walk you through how to best use the course materials at the start of the year. Altogether, the Student Motivation Course has 7 core modules of 5 videos apiece, plus, for this Back to School cohort, twice-weekly recorded Q&A sessions with Dave where you see Dave answer specific questions about Back to School issues. Each video lesson is 2-10 minutes in length, and as soon as you register I walk you through how best to use the course and set yourself up for success.
  • ANSWER: Each video lesson includes a Reflective Application prompt to guide your thinking, process the lesson's content, and make tweaks to your daily work. I recommend answering these in the comments section of each lesson, but you can also respond to the questions in a personal journal or, should you choose to enroll in the course with a friend or a group, during periodic in-person meetings of your own design.
  • CONNECT: For the 400 educators who have taken the course so far, the power isn't just in the content -- it's in the connections. What I (Dave) love about the Student Motivation Course is that so many of the smart, earnest people who read my blog are in the course, engaging with the art and science of student motivation over the course of several weeks. That collegial power inspires me every day. We facilitate connection in two ways:
    • through lesson-specific commenting, and
    • through twice-weekly, livestreamed and recorded Q&As with Dave.

So, you watch, answer, and connect around the research and practice of cultivating five key beliefs in our kids. To do this, you use 35+ brief video lessons and 7 weekly, live Q&As with Dave.

Taught by a teacher who's researched and tested these ideas for years.

Dave Stuart Jr.
Dave Stuart Jr.

Hi there, I'm Dave Stuart Jr., the creator of the Student Motivation Course.

I'm a classroom teacher who has spent years reading, researching, and experimenting on the topic of student motivation. For thousands of hours, my burning question has been like yours: How do I get my students to do more work, with more care and less stress? This course is a culmination of that work.

Here is a bit about me:

I'm a husband and father, and I take these roles very seriously. (In other words, teaching is not my whole life.)

Over 35,000 people read my articles each month.

Over 10,000 educators in 25 different states have heard me speak about my work at various workshops, conferences, and keynotes.

My bestselling book, These 6 Things, is read by teaching teams and schools around the world.

I am animated by a simple belief: all students and teachers should flourish.

Here's an early video lesson inside the course

For the Back to School 2018 cohort, you get immediate access to all videos as soon as you enroll, including those in the exclusive Back to School Specifics module

This course is closed for enrollment.

Here's how the Q&As work.

Use these to make the PD experience customized for you.

What's in the Course?

  Getting Started
Available in days
days after you enroll

This course is closed for enrollment.

Who's the course for?

Since starting the Student Motivation Course, I've seen over 400 educators from all kinds of settings all over the world engage with the course material. I've seen that the course can be for continuation school teachers in California, and urban middle school teachers in New York, and private school teachers in Cambodia, and school administrators in Colorado. Teachers across the acronyms and labels -- GT, IEP, "at-risk," Title 1 -- say: This course helps. (In fact, 100% of participants so far have said that they would recommend this course to a colleague.)

So then: Who's it for? Well, if you're reading this, it might be for you.

Here's what I mean: Like all learning, the course yields its greatest fruits to those who put the most in. It's likely, then, that since you're taking the time to read this, it could very well yield key takeaways for you.

Listen: I've never been a principal, and I've only taught grades 6-12, so in the course I don't inauthentically share stories about how I "know from experience" that this applies to ed leadership or teacher preparation or teaching third grade.


  • I've taught in a range of classroom settings. I've been in an urban, under-resourced school teaching classes exclusively for "accelerated" (i.e., not doing well enough on state tests) learners, and I'm currently in a rural, majority free/reduced lunch high school. Each year I teach "GT" kids, "at-risk" kids, kids with anxiety disorders, kids terrified of failure, kids who coast, kids with tough home lives... you get the idea. Specifically, my time this year is split between teaching history in an "at-risk" ninth grade academy and teaching AP World History exclusively to about 30% of our entire ninth grade class. (In other words, it's not a selective AP program.) This range of experience deeply informs my work.
  • I've led PD in a broad range of schools and to a broad range of educators -- PK to college, tiny towns in rural CA to charter school systems in major urban centers. When required, I've found ways to make literacy PD applicable to people who teach mathematics or orchestra or chemistry or career tech. My approach to PD on any topic is rooted in these prior PD experiences.
  • I've chosen this topic -- student motivation via the five key beliefs -- because, of all the things I write about, this is the most widely relevant. The key beliefs help me better understand and improve not just my students' motivation, but also my own, my colleagues', and my own kids'. The more I study the research underlying the beliefs, the more I see applications anywhere that humans are present.
  • And finally, I'm the type of professional learner who actually prefers learning from people who don't do the same job as me. The most formative book of my undergraduate years was There Are No Shortcuts by Rafe Esquith, a 5th grade teacher in LA. The book that led me to pop-up debates was Clueless in Academe, a book written about higher learning by Gerald Graff, a former president of the Modern Language Association. The book that got my kids talking in class every day was Engaging Mathematics Students in Using Cooperative Learning, by John Strebe, a math teacher.

In short, if you want this course to be for you, if the five beliefs at the top of the page resonate, then I think the course is going to equip you, encourage you, and give you the tools you need to do work you're proud of without driving yourself insane. If it doesn't, good news: we offer a 30-day, full-money-back guarantee for the course. If you put in a month and find that it doesn't help, send us an email at [email protected]

"I recently read an article in which the author wrote about "quake books" as a text that presents a person with breakthrough knowledge that changes his/her life forever. This course was a "quake course" for me. Before taking the course I had started learning about the 5 beliefs from your blog posts, but taking the course has helped me with the process of internalizing the beliefs - getting them to start moving from my head to my heart."

- Jamaica Reed, secondary teacher, Iowa

"Thanks for presenting your work in bitesize, applicable pieces that I can explore on my own time. You help make improving my teaching feel more possible. "

- Katie Fritz, high school English teacher, Minnesota

Why invest in this course?

The average registration for a teaching conference costs around $200, and then you typically need to arrange and/or pay for travel, and release time, and substitute teachers, and so on. Once the conference is over, you're often encouraged, but you leave with only your notes and (if you're like me) a strong dose of cognitive overwhelm.

The Student Motivation Course, on the other hand, offers a competitive value:

  • Once you register, you have everything you need. No added costs, no subs, no travel. In fact, there's even a way to get a free copy of Dave's new book out of the deal -- scroll all the way to the bottom of this page for more info on that.
  • Due to its all-online, schedule-friendly format, this class can be sustained, embedded PD at its best. While I do believe one-and-done PD formats can be transformational for teachers -- after all, I deliver keynotes and all-day literacy workshops around the USA, and I wouldn't do that if I felt it was a waste of a schools' time or resources -- this online format makes it easy to take in 10 minutes per weekday of sustained, rich PD. What that means for you is deeper, more lasting understandings about student motivation and the ability to apply these understandings to your work over the long-term.
  • The course material is designed to apply to all types of learners. Title 1 students? Yes. Gifted and Talented youngsters? Yes. "At-risk" kids? Yes. Advanced Placement students? Yes. Students disadvantaged by the achievement gap? Yes. If your school has initiatives targeting a certain student demographic or group, the course material can inform those efforts. As you will come to see, the five key beliefs are operative in just about any situation involving the need to get human beings to engage, and the research is clear that these beliefs are malleable.
  • It's made for people with busy schedules. Lesson videos are 2-8 minutes in length, followed by 5-10 minute reflection application exercises.

Limited Time to Register

This Back to School cohort of the Student Motivation Course closes when I start teaching: the day after Labor Day. Enroll now and, as a Back to School 2018 participant, you will receive:

  • 35+ high quality, schedule-friendly video lessons, broken up into 7 focused modules.
  • Unlimited access to the course. View it wherever and whenever you'd like, this school year and beyond.
  • Twice-weekly, exclusive livestreams with Dave where you can ask and discuss about Back to School specifics. These last until Labor Day.
  • 100% money-back guarantee. If you use it, and you don't love it, I'll refund you. It's as easy as that. (Email: [email protected])

This course is closed for enrollment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many professional development hours does this course count for?
I've calculated that the total amount of professional learning time educators put into the completed course is 10 hours. This includes the length of the videos (~4 hrs in total), the reflective application questions (~4 hrs), and classroom application work (~2 hrs). I email you a certificate upon completion of the course.
When does the course start?
For the Back to School cohort, the learning begins as soon as you register. You get immediate access to all course materials, and you can start asking questions for my twice-weekly Q&As immediately.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
Gasp! I would never want that. If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact me in the first 30 days and I will give you a full refund --> [email protected]
How much content is there?
There are three kinds of content: the videos, the reflective application prompts, and what you and your colleagues will turn into content-rich comments on each lesson. For the Back to School cohort, you get immediate access to all 7 modules -- 35+ video lessons in total. Some are as short as 2 minutes, and none are longer than 10. And twice per week up to Labor Day, I'll also hold live Q&As where I answer any questions you submit. Recordings of those Q&A sessions will be accessible from inside the course as well.
Do you accept purchase orders?
I do, and it's as easy as 1-2-3. 1) Email me at [email protected], and I'll send you my W-9. (Districts often need this vendor information before they can process a PO.) 2) Email me again at [email protected], this time with the PO. As soon as I receive this, I count you as registered. 3) I'll email back an invoice with the PO number included, and that invoice will contain however many unique registration codes you purchased.
Will my state department of education recognize this as official PD toward my certification?
From what I can tell, every state's red tape for this process is unique like a snowflake. I know that in my state of Michigan, I would need to form a partnership with a local university in order to get it to count, while in the state of New York, there's a $500 application I need to complete. At this time, I've done none of that -- all of my energy has been focused on making this course as good as it can be. Check with your state's Department of Education to see what they can do.
Are you an accredited PD provider?
I'm not -- I'm just a classroom teacher who also researches and writes for teachers. I do have PD experience -- in the past five years, I've given over 100 different PD sessions in 25 states -- but I have no official accreditation.
How long will I have access to the course material?
You'll have access for life -- a perk that I don't know if I'll be able to offer with every subsequent PD course.
How do I receive a free copy of your book, These 6 Things?
Order the book anywhere books are sold, and then forward your receipt to [email protected] You will receive a message back from us with a coupon code, and that coupon code will allow you to register for the course for $30 off the regular price. In essence, this gets you a free copy of Dave's book.
Do I get 1:1 coaching from Dave Stuart Jr?
Not exactly. Until Labor Day, you'll have a chance to submit questions for me to answer during twice-weekly live, recorded Q&As, but the reality is -- and I know you know this -- I don't have all the answers. There are undermotivated students in my classroom, right now, that I'm puzzling through. But this course will undoubtedly give you a compass, a set of lenses, and some really practical tools. It will move you forward, empowering you to find the answers unique to your classroom and setting. If you'd like to hear a lot from me, then I highly recommend using the Q&A sessions aggressively :)
How do I contact you to ask a question about the program?
Do I get a certificate upon completion?
You sure do! It will indicate 10 completed hours of PD. Please note, however, that every state and school seems to vary on whether they will accept this as "official" continuing education credit.
Will you offer this course again?
I do intend to offer the Student Motivation Course again, although I'm not sure when and I can't promise that it will include the same "perks' (e.g., free book opportunity, unlimited lifetime access, current registration fee, Q&A sessions, etc).

Psst... If you purchase a copy of my book on Amazon, I'll send you a coupon for $31 off registration!

Here's how to do it:

In essence, it's a free book. Take advantage of it! :)

This course is closed for enrollment.