The Student Motivation Course

Help them care. Win their hearts.

Notes from Dave:

  • If you would like to inquire about a special rate to make the SMC available to your entire school or district, please email me at [email protected]. I have provided this service with great success to large groups, and I am eager to do the same with you in a way and at a price that works for your unique circumstances.

Teaching right beside you,


Are you tired of struggling to get kids to work hard? Do you dream of a classroom where students own their learning? Do you want kids to do work for the sake of the work, rather than for some extrinsic reward or consequence?

Good news: researchers have figured out what motivates students to do work with care -- and it’s simpler than you think.

In the Student Motivation Course, you will learn how a classroom teacher can leverage five key beliefs that students hold about themselves and about school. The result: lifelong learners.

Here's the gist:

  • 35+ focused, bite-sized video lessons -- designed with busy educators like you in mind
  • Discussion sections for each lesson, in which bright educators like you share
  • 24-7, online, lifetime access

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? How much more of a difference would your work as an educator make?

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.
To truly motivate your students to do the work, you don’t have to be a miracle worker or a workaholic. You just need to understand the five key beliefs of student motivation, and you need actual strategies to influence each one.

In this online course, you’ll learn…

  • the research basis of the five key beliefs that lie beneath the lack of student motivation you see.
  • how to make students believe that you’re a good teacher (without completely reinventing yourself).
  • how to make students feel like they belong in your classroom, on their terms.
  • how to prove to students that effort works.
  • how to prove to students that yes, they can be successful.
  • how to teach kids to find value in their schoolwork for the flourishing life they want to live
  • the difference between interventional and contextual approaches to student motivation, and when to use each one

There's no other place in the world where I offer this in-depth, sustained, schedule-friendly PD on student motivation. There's no other place in the world where you'll connect with so many like-minded, like-hearted colleagues from around the globe, all wrestling with the same work.

But don't take my word for it. Here's what some of the 500+ Student Motivation Course alums have to say.

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

- Norah Olig, Instructional Literacy Coach/Interventionist, WI

"This has been so incredibly beneficial to me as a first year teacher. In my brief conversations with others about the course and my interactions with students regarding the beliefs, I know this is career trajectory-altering."

- 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

"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

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

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

"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 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

"I learned a lot. Other teachers will as well!"

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

Here's how the course works

  • WATCH: Once you register, you get immediate access to every video in the course. Altogether, the Student Motivation Course has 7 core modules of 5 videos apiece, plus the epic added bonus of recorded Q&A sessions with Dave. 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 nearly 1000 educators who have taken the course so far, the power isn't just in the content -- it's in the connections. You will be blown away by the smart, earnest people who are in the course, engaging with the art and science of student motivation. That collegial power is enough to prove to you that yes, you are not alone and you can do this! In the course, we facilitate connection in two ways:
    • through the lesson-specific comment sections, and
    • through recorded 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.

What are the lessons like?

Here's a sample video lesson from early in the course

What's in the Course?

  Getting Started
Available in days
days after you enroll
  Recorded Q&A Conversations w/ Dave
Available in days
days after you enroll

Who's the course for?

  • Experienced educators who are weary of the next silver bullet or all-fluff-no-substance PD.
  • New teachers who want to build their careers on a simple and robust framework for analyzing and acting on student motivation issues.
  • Instructional coaches who want to support teachers with focused, coherent, and actionable insights on how to educate all students.
  • Administrators looking to clarify their school's approach to motivating all kids.

Since starting the Student Motivation Course, I've seen nearly 1000 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 with one voice: This course helps. (In fact, 100% of participants so far have said that they would recommend this course to a colleague.)

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 are an educator who wants to win the hearts and minds of students, 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].

Get started now!

"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 well over $200, and then you often need to arrange and/or pay for travel, and release time, and substitute teachers, and so on. Once the conference is over, you're 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.
  • It's made for people with busy schedules. Lesson videos are 2-8 minutes in length, followed by 5-10 minute reflective application exercises. Also, you can take the course when it works for you: a bit each day, or over a few immersive days.
  • 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.

Register Now!

The current cohort of the Student Motivation Course is open for registration. Enroll and receive:

  • 35+ high quality, schedule-friendly video lessons, broken up into 7 sharply focused modules.
  • Unlimited access to the course. View it wherever and whenever you'd like, this school year and beyond.
  • Monthly, exclusive livestreams with Dave. These are alumni favorites.
  • 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])
  • Certificate of completion indicating up to 20 hours of professional development.

Get started now!

We love purchase orders!

If you'd like time to get administrative funding for your enrollment in the course, we love that. Here are some notes to help:

  • First, we wrote a whole blog article on how to ask, and it includes a worksheet that lays out the case for this course. Find that article here.
  • Second, this process can take time. If you're committed to seeking administrative funding, email us at [email protected] and we'll hold your spot in the course.
  • Third, if your school prefers to purchase by check or purchase order, that's great! Just email us at [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions

What research is the course based on?
Here’s a partial list: John Hattie's Visible Learning for Teachers; Carol Dweck’s research on incremental theories of intelligence Martin Seligman’s Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being; Daniel Coyle's The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born; K. Anders Ericsson's Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise; Dan Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us; Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Helping Children Succeed; Camille Farrington et al’s Helping Adolescents Become Learners; Greg Walton’s research on belonging; Dave Yeager's research on wise interventions; Bill Damon’s The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Purpose in Life; Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance; Gabrielle Oettingen's WOOP; Chris Hulleman's Build Connections; Daphna Oyserman's Pathways To Success Through Identity-based Motivation; and my own book, These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most.
Is there a bulk discount?
Yes! If you register 5 or more people, you get 10% off -- but email us to tell us the details of your order so that we can set the discount up! We'll look forward to hearing from you at [email protected].
What if I am unhappy with the course?
Gasp! We would never want that. If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund. Just email [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. 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 I also held live Q&As during the initial year of the course where I answered dozens of submitted questions. Recordings of those Q&A sessions are accessible from inside the course.
Do you accept purchase orders (POs)?
We do, and it's as easy as 1-2-3. 1) Email us at [email protected], and we'll send you my W-9. (Districts often need this vendor information before they can process a PO.) 2) Email us again at [email protected], this time with the PO. As soon as we receive this, we count you as registered. 3) We'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?
Every state's Department of Education has different policies for this. Check with yours to see if this course will count.
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. Well, I'm National Board certified... but that's not a PD accreditation. So, no. Not accredited.
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.
Do I get 1:1 coaching from Dave Stuart Jr?
As my daily work with students often reminds me, 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.
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 up to 20 completed hours of PD, based on the number of hours you log while completing videos and reflective application exercises. Please note, however, that every state and school seems to vary on whether they will accept this as "official" continuing education credit.
When does the course start?
The learning begins as soon as you register. You get immediate access to all course materials, and you can start asking questions for the Q&As with Dave immediately.
Are course videos captioned?
Yes! All video lessons include Closed Captioning.
How many professional development hours does this course count for?
Our several hundred initial course participants spent an average of 15 hours of professional learning time into the completed course. This includes the length of the videos (~4 hrs in total), the reflective application questions (~4 hrs total), and classroom application work (~7 hrs total). When you complete the exit survey at the end of the course, you are automatically emailed a personalized certificate of completion.

P.S. It comes down to this: In this course, I'll teach you how to approach student motivation for the rest of your career.

This course was made by a busy teacher, for busy teachers. You and me are the kind of people who deeply believe in this work, but who are smart enough to know that we can't sacrifice our whole lives on the altar of teaching success. Sustainable work -- that's what we're after. Smarter, not harder.

The five key beliefs are the distillation of years of intensive research and classroom experimenting. In 35 bite-sized lessons, you'll walk away understanding these beliefs and making unique applications in your own setting. I am frequently amazed at what course alumni go on to do in their classrooms and schools.

Bottom line: This is the one course you need to understand how to help students do work with care.

May your work flourish long-term.

Get started now!