Heroism: For Social/Emotional Learning and Character EducationCurated for Middle School Students

Watch the following films that celebrate the best of humanity while promoting Social-Emotional Learning and Character Education.


The films curated below can be used for social and emotional learning.  Apply these four concepts to the films:
The four competencies used in many school system SEL programs are:
  1. "GROWTH MINDSET: The belief that one’s abilities can grow with effort. A "fixed mindset" means you tell yourself things are the way they are and always will be."  A "growth mindset" means you tell yourself there can be positive change.
  2. SELF-EFFICACY: The belief in one’s own ability to succeed in achieving an outcome or reaching a goal.  This powerful core value can be seen in stories of endurance and perseverance.
  3. SELF-MANAGEMENT: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. When you look at MY HERO media with students, stop and ask them to speculate about the emotions and thoughts of the heroes based on their behavior.
  4. SOCIAL AWARENESS: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.  MY HERO stories, films, art, and audio come from around the world, presenting diverse cultures, offering a wealth of material to use in discussing social awareness issues with students.


The Buddy Club

Produced by:Jackie McMahon

The Buddy Club Film Link

Jackie McMahon's film "The Buddy Club" won first place in the Middle School category in the MY HERO International Film Festival.

The film examines an after-school program started by Jackie’s sister Katie, which pairs students with disabilities with other students with whom they normally would not have class. The program promotes the building of a community within High School that can stand against attempts at bullying and other anti-social behavior.

Students are encouraged to think of ways they can connect with other students, those with disabilities or in a different grade. Share your efforts with MY HERO.


After watching the following PSA New Together, students consider a time they were new to something to gain a better understanding of how a person immigrating from another country would feel.  Although this features younger children, it is appropriate for all grade levels.  

New Together

Produced by:Max Landwirth

For World Refugee Day, let's face the new together and stand with refugees. 


Produced by:Anson Schloat and John G. Young

A film about John Lewis on citizenship and character.

Students watch the film Citizenship featuring Congressman John Lewis. 

John Lewis states when the laws conflict with our conscience, we have an obligation to disobey the laws. Do you agree or disagree with Lewis? Why?

Were the civil rights activists of the 1960s successful in changing the laws by breaking the laws? 

What character traits do you think a good citizen possesses?


The film The Equal Justice Initiative, highlights the work of this non-profit organization, based in Montgomery, Alabama, that provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted of crimes, poor prisoners without effective representation, and others who may have been denied a fair trial. 

The Equal Justice Initiative

Gabriel Diamond

Bryan Stevenson and Equal Justice Initiative litigate cases for the unjustly imprisoned, reforming the justice system. 

Bryan Stevenson

By: Arthur (Trey) Carlisle

Bryan Stevenson has been recognized for the work that he has done to address poverty and racial inequality.


Trey Carlisle writes about his hero, Attorney Bryan Stevenson. Stevenson leads the nation toward prison reform and racial equality through representing people of color who have received unjust treatment in the U.S. criminal justice system.




Watch filmmaker/spoken word artist Trey Carlisle's performance of "History Will Be Repeated," a poem promoting tolerance and encouraging us to stand up for equality and social justice. . 

History will be Repeated

Produced by:Trey Carlisle
Watch filmmaker/spoken word artistTrey Carlisle's performance of "History Will Be Repeated," a poem promoting tolerance.

Upstanders:The Mosque Across the Street

Produced by:Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran

A mosque moves across the street from a church in the Bible Belt. 

What happens when a mosque moves across the street from a church in the Bible Belt? 

When an Islamic center purchased a plot of land opposite a church in Memphis, Tennessee, the local Muslim community expected hostility. Pastor Steve Stone had something else in mind. See how this community came together. 

How can one person's kindness change a person's life? 

You can never know the power you have to change someone's life.

Watch the film about how a trip to a magic shop and the kindness of a stranger changed Dr. James Doty's life. 

How an Unexpected Kindness can Change a Life

Uplift TV

Dr. James Doty, M.D., tells a touching story of how one interaction can alter the course of a person’s life.

Laguna Beach Police Anti-Bullying Campaign Featuring Tony Hawk

Produced by:LBPD Social Media Team

Laguna Beach PD's Anti-Bullying Campaign featuring Tony Hawk. 

Watch this short film about anti-bullying and how small acts of bullying add up.

Do you know of a time that someone was bullied by the use of text messages of social media? What did you do?

How can you be an upstander rather than a bystander when someone is being bullied or excluded?

Class and School Wide Projects

Call to Action Kindness Project Film Link
Credit: Gillum's Class


Inspire your students by watching this film, Call to Action Kindness Project. This film shows the efforts of students in 6th grade sharing ways to be kind with 2nd grade children to promote a more positive culture in their school and community in Ontario, California. 

What can your students do to promote kindness and be a positive role model for younger students? Share your project with MY HERO.


Additional Resources

When students think about characteristics that they recognize as "good,"  they are on their way to exploring the concept of heroism.  By providing examples of people who epitomize these traits, students experience the choices people make in difficult times to promote good character. 

Basic questions relating to positive values can be used with any of the MY HERO medium, whether it's stories, films, art, or audio.  We've curated some examples on the topics of courage, kindness, perseverance, social justice, forgiveness and compassion.

Resources for Character Education

By: Becky Miller

MY HERO Multimedia Resources to Explore Heroes who Demonstrate These Values

Organizer created on 7/6/2020 4:54:31 PM by Laura Nietzer

Last edited 3/14/2023 3:10:05 PM by Laura Nietzer