Top 5 Movies About Teachers

by Denise Garrett

cc licensed flickr photo shared by kevin dooley

While a list such as the best movies about teachers may be highly subjective, this list is comprised of the the top 5 movies about teachers which were are most agreed upon by notable reviewers.

Dead Poets Society

Very few people would object to this movie about teachers making the top 5 list. John Keating, played by Robin Williams, works to open the minds of his uptight private school students so they might begin to think for themselves rather than to accept what is being presented to them. Keating manages to change the minds of a small group of young men and win their loyalty; however, the movie is far from a Hollywood fairy tale ending. As Keating pushes his students to become individuals, the school and some parents are very much against such efforts.

Stand and Deliver

In this film, high school teacher Jaime Escalante inspires dropouts to continue their education. His ambitions are tremendous in this Hispanic neighborhood where most of his students are gang members or underachievers. He uses unconventional methods of teaching to push them into levels of academics their own mothers would never have thought possible. These students, who were once labeled as hopeless by nearly everyone, begin to excel in calculus and find they may have a future outside of crime and the neighborhood after all because of Jaime Escalante.

Mr. Holland’s Opus

A former composer becomes a high school music teacher to pay the bills to be able to continue working on composing the next great composition masterpiece to change the musical world. He struggles to get through to his students; however, over time learns how to most effectively reach his students with great success. He also finds his life increasingly blessed with the birth of his son. As with most parents, he cannot wait to share the joy of his passion with his child, only to discover his child cannot hear. As his career reaches the end, he struggles to see how he has made any real contribution to the world or his life. He learns he may have touched the lives of more than he realized and how they, in turn, touched his life.

Lean on Me

This teachers proves to us that teachers must adapt their teaching methodologies to fit their audience if they truly wish to make a difference. Joe Clark, played by Morgan Freeman, is the principal of a deteriorating inner-city high school. He becomes borderline obsessed with the idea of turning the school around and getting through to his students. Joe has a no-nonsense approach to his teaching which frightens the teachers and eventually gets through to the students. He has to fight against everyone every step of the way and sometimes does so with a baseball bat and a blow horn.


This film is another inspirational film about a teacher bent over a barrel and backed into a corner in an impossible situation. The school district is being sued because it came to light that they gave a diploma to an illiterate student. As this teacher takes an unconventional approach to ensuring his students are as well prepared as possible upon graduating, the school board is not pleased with his methods. He earns so much respect from his students that they begin to fight for his job alongside his every effort, as well as to restore his faith in teaching.

While there are many other inspirational teaching films such as Pay It Forward and Dangerous Minds, these are the top 5 movies about teachers which are most agreed upon and frequently mentioned by notable film critics and film reviewers.

This post was written by Denise Garrett

Denise Garrett is a school administrator and guest author at, a site with guides and information on how to get a masters in education.

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