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5-Minute Film Festival: Inspirational Teachers

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People have so many different reasons to join the education field -- what inspired you to become an educator? Perhaps you feel a desire to give back to the community, or you relish the intellectual challenge, or perhaps the simple reward of seeing a student smile every day is your motivation. But I suspect that for many people, an encounter with an inspiring educator might have been the spark that led to this career path. Read on for more video profiles of inspiring teachers across the country and their stories.

Video Playlist: Inspirational Teachers

Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.


  1. Teacher Chris Emdin Finding Ways to Make Math Fun (3:44)

    Dr. Chris Emdin, a science educator and professor at the Columbia Teachers College, started the #HipHopEd movement to help teachers connect science and math education with students' real-world interests. This video was originally created as an advertisement for Office Depot, but Emdin's message of "meeting students on their own cultural turf" will resonate with teachers everywhere.

  2. Shelter from the Storm (3:39)

    Ms. Reifler is a teacher in a low-income elementary school in east Los Angeles. She encourages her students to look beyond their circumstances and envision what a "good life" could mean for them. Like any teacher, Ms. Reifler only has one year to spend with her students, but as the video says, "A moment with a good teacher can give a lifetime of hope."

  3. David Hunter, Zombie-Based Learning (2:34)

    David Hunter noticed how much his students loved books and movies about the zombie apocalypse, and instead of telling them to read something else, he found a way to add the concept into his curriculum. He uses a self-made graphic textbook, Dead Reckon, to teach students about disease outbreaks and survival skills, incorporating national geography standards and project-based learning in creative ways.

  4. Meditation 4 Madmen - Kevin "Teach" Baas (4:53)

    If you saw Kevin Baas riding his motorcycle down the street you might not immediately think "educator," but the shop class teacher's passion for helping his students succeed is the same as any other's. (The second half of this video does get a bit advertorial, so when you get to that point, hit pause and check out the website for Kevin's Kennedy Chopper Class here.)

  5. Ahoy! Meet Nancy Davis, the Pirate Teacher (4:45)

    When Nancy Davis, an elementary school teacher, had to have eye surgery for cancer, she worried that her students might be put off by the eye patch she had to wear -- so she turned it into an opportunity for fun instead, and became the Pirate Teacher!

  6. Wright's Law: A Unique Teacher Imparts Real Life Lessons (11:58)

    Physics teacher Jeffrey Wright is most well-known to his students for his whimsical science experiments and classroom demonstrations. His drive to be a good teacher and mentor to his students comes in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- surprising personal challenges. Be warned: you might want to save this one for watching in the privacy of your home, as it will make you cry (happy) tears.

More Resources on Inspiring Teachers

For more stories about educators that go above and beyond the call of duty, check out these additional articles!

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Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT's picture
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT
Middle school English/Digital Design/Broadcast Media teacher

I love how inspirational teachers find ways to connect the learning to their unique students: Chris Emdin's hip-hop, David Hunter's zombies, Nancy Davis's pirate -- as Emdin says, "meeting students on their own cultural turf" is one great way to motivate, inspire and change the lives of our students. What a great testament to the importance of individual teachers -- no matter how fancy and shiny and virtual the technology, it will never be able to do the job of inspirational teachers!

Katie Schellenberg, JD, MA's picture
Katie Schellenberg, JD, MA
Advocate, Lawyer, Teacher and Founder of Beyond Tutoring

What constantly strikes me is the diversity of exceptional teachers, how you can make pedagogy your own. I also love the description of hip hop as the pedagogy of motion.

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