50 Best Teacher Movies You Should Definitely Watch For Inspiration

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50 Best teacher movies
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Whenever you’re reading something or solving a problem if you get stuck on a particular word or in a specific step, who do you turn to? They are none other than our teachers. Teaching can often be deemed one of the noblest professions out there.

You are not only learning for yourself but passing on your knowledge to others and, in a way, enriching both your lives. Every notable individual today who has started with humble beginnings has been backed by someone who taught them a lot and guided them as well to propel them to the position they are currently in.

Teaching and learning go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Being a teacher doesn’t necessarily imply that you have supreme knowledge in a particular field, and now your only duty is to pass on that knowledge.

Every time a teacher gets in to do her job, it becomes a humbling experience for her too, as she derecognizes students’ rationale and tries to justify her subject matter to the best of her ability. Often the art of teaching cannot or rather should not be restricted to the four walls of a classroom or the chalky blackboard, or even the hardbound paperback curriculum books.

A collage on 50 Best teacher movies of all times
A collage on 50 Best teacher movies of all times

One can learn from a variety of sources, from one’s experiences, as well as one’s field of expertise. Teachers are often our best moral supporters, philosophers, and in some cases, our idols whom we want to make proud in some way or the other.

Be it your high school teacher or your college professor, they are individuals first and, as such, can share personal anecdotes with you that might not have to do anything with your coursework but would no doubt help you further as human beings. And that’s the best part of being a teacher.

You get to shape a person from scratch, mold him with principles and ideals and imbue in him a sense of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that will make you inextricably linked to their life. 

Actors who have played teachers in Hollywood
Actors who have played teachers in Hollywood

As a special note of thanks to all the teachers we have crossed paths with to date and in fond remembrance of the ones who were with us and have impacted our lives in ways we could not think were possible, we have come up with our very special edition of the Top 50 Hollywood movies that showcase teachers from various disciplines.

1. Dead Poets Society

Peter Weir and Tom Schulman pull off a real victory with this masterpiece that stars Robin Williams as the famous fictional teacher, John Keating at an elite British high school, and Ethan Hawkes as one of his students.

Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society
Dead Poets Society

This 1989 American classroom drama revolves around two young men, Todd Anderson and Neil Perry, who has been admitted to the high school, both propelled by their parents, who harbor profound aspirations for each of them.

Todd has to follow in his extroverted and overachieving brother’s footsteps, but his interests are not aligned with his older brother. On the other hand, Neil is a talented and brilliant student but is constantly dominated by his father.

When new teaching recruit John Keating enters the classroom, armed with a book of poetry, he shows these kids how much of the world is still left for them to explore and how little of it they can find in their academic textbooks. He philosophized, guided, nourished, and cherished their young minds, but that also made him challenge the status quo within the school.  

2. Stand and Deliver

Edward James Olmos plays a high school math teacher, Jamie, who has been newly recruited at the public school meant for Hispanic students, which is notorious for its unruly students and an even worse quality of education.

Neil Perry in Stand and Deliver
Stand and Deliver

Jamie has been assigned to the most raucous of classrooms, on top of it, by the principal, who wants to elevate the school from its bad reputation. But this proves to be quite an ordeal for him since he seems to get bullied and disrespected by the tough Hispanic students, who have developed apathy towards their studies.

Jamie uses unconventional methods and out-of-the-box ideas to instill in them a love for math and calculus, which leads to the entire class taking cognizance of the fact and acing the California high school tests.

This, however, puts the high school amid another turmoil as the authorities suspect some fishy activity brewing and force the students to sit for a retest. The movie won several awards and nominations and, to date, is one of the best teacher movies to be made in Hollywood.

3. Freedom Writers

Directed by Richard LaGravenese, this 2007 American high school drama has been adapted from Erin Gruwell’s autobiographical account of the same name. Hilary Swank plays Erin herself, a young English teacher who has been newly appointed at the controversial Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Island to teach the freshman and sophomore years.

Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers
Freedom Writers

This would essentially be her first professional stint, and Erin is determined to make a lasting impression. However, the school, and especially the batch, is notorious for discord and a lot of animosity brewing among the students owing to their varying cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, and races. To solve this, the school introduced a voluntary integration program as well but to no avail.

It is now up to Erin to bring this class under control and help them get along with each other in a more harmonious manner, rise above their differences and focus on their education and become better versions of themselves.

4. School of Rock

Director Richard Linklater, who’s noted for his Before trilogy, brings to us a comedy/musical drama revolving around music teacher Dewey Finn and his batch of students, who parade about essentially as social misfits.

Jack Black in School of Rock
School of Rock

Jack Black plays the comical former lead guitarist and currently a substitute music teacher, Dewey, at a public high school in New York. Kicked out of his band at the last moment, he takes up this job to cover for his best friend, Ned, to pay the bills.

Dewey fakes his qualifications and lands the job but is unfortunately yet expectedly unable to do a good job at inspiring the students with his music. This is before he suddenly chances upon an advertisement for The Battle of Bands, a rock band competition with a bucket load of prize money.

He tries to form his band, School of Rock, with his students, and this turns into a comical yet heartwarming bonding session between the teacher and his students. The movie won 8 awards and 23 nominations and is perfect for a lighthearted watch.

5. To Sir, with Love

Adapted from the novel by the same name by E. R. Braithwaite, this poignant classroom drama stars Sydney Poitier as a young, black teacher at a British public high school on the East End. Mark Thackeray, who was an engineer by profession, joined the East End High School amid unemployment to teach the students topics from his discipline.

Sydney Poitier in To Sir, with Love
To Sir, with Love

But this proves to be quite an ordeal since the high school is rife with class politics, racial profiling, ethnic differences, and a whole lot of hostility among the students. Even Mark himself gets subjected to a fair share of racial prejudice when a few white British teachers treat him with an air of condescension and pity garbed in casual ignorance.

Mark then uses radical ways and unconventional methods to unite his students and make them get along together, and, in this way, he emerges as a hero among the youngsters. 

6. Mona Lisa Smile

Directed by Mike Newell, this 2003 American period drama revolves around an all-women college that is pretty orthodox in its curriculum and instruction and harbors no extra ambitions or passions for its students besides being good housewives.

Wellesley College is pretty renowned in the socially elite circles for producing well-groomed, knowledgeable young women who’d rather devote their time to the necessities of housekeeping than have a mind of their own, a rationale of their own, or even have any professional ambitions.

Julia Stiles and Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile
Mona Lisa Smile

In the middle of this, Katherine Ann Watson, a free-thinking radical art history teacher, is recruited to train young women. She befriends a few girls but antagonizes most with her out-of-the-box ideas and constant encouragement to students to think on their own.

This also attracts a lot of friction from the higher authority and thus starts her arduous battle to motivate the women to stand up for themselves in a society that only perceives them as someone’s daughter or someone’s wife. Starring Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Ginnifer Goodwin, this movie is a must-watch.

7. Mr. Holland’s Opus

This 1995 American musical drama is directed by Stephen Herek and stars Richard Dreyfuss, Glenn Headley, Terrence Howard, and Jay Thomas, among others. Dreyfuss plays a struggling musician and composer who has a hard time trying to pay his bills and, at the same time selling his records. He accepts a part-time teaching job at the local high school as their music teacher, and the story takes on a completely different turn.

A scene from Mr. Holland's Opus
Mr. Holland’s Opus

His engagement with his students opens new creative avenues for him that were previously unknown to him, and it kicks off a musical discourse that enriches both their lives. As Glenn Holland works on his magnum opus, a piece of a beautiful symphony that would probably get him noticed as the leading musical genius, he realizes his passion for both music and teaching the same is coming to fruition via his students.

It helps him get by in life with all the more zeal and enthusiasm. The movie was nominated for several Oscars and won quite a few other awards as well.

8. Dangerous Minds

Adapted from LouAnne Johnson’s autobiographical novel, “My Posse Don’t Do Homework,” this 1995 American drama stars Michelle Pfeiffer as a former Marine who joins the local public high school in the impoverished section of the city.

Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds
Dangerous Minds

Louanne Johnson is a tough bird and is determined to get the class snubbed under her pinky on her very first day as a teacher in the high school. And this could come as a problem since the class is notorious for its ill-behaved students who have developed apathy towards their education.

She doesn’t have any problem with getting the students to do as per her bidding. But things take a difficult turn when she realizes that to nourish these young minds, she might have to take recourse to karate and Bob Dylan’s songs to make them pay attention.

While her teaching methods became popular among the students, they garnered quite a few raised eyebrows among the teachers. The movie is not a lighthearted, motivational classroom drama with the teacher winning over her students as the conclusion. Rather it’s an insightful journey into one’s responsibilities as a teacher that surpasses whatever’s in the textbooks or written on the blackboard.

9. Blackboard Jungle

Directed by Richard Brooks, this black-and-white noir American drama focuses on a former war hero turned teacher, Rick Dadier, and his batch of unruly students at North Manual High School. Rick takes up the role of a teacher, along with two other equally inexperienced teachers, to meet the bills and support his pregnant wife, Anne.

A Scene from Blackboard Jungle
Blackboard Jungle

However, the school has a reputation for harboring ill-disciplined students and bullies who also take it out on their teachers, so much so that no one lasts more than a week in the department. Dadier takes up the job thinking all of it to be an exaggeration but soon faces extreme hostility from the students and, in particular, the high school tough guys, Artie West, and Gregory Miller.

It soon turns into a racially prejudiced war between Rick and these two, and it is up to him to bring these miscreants under control and teach them right from wrong. But in the meantime, the nature of the war has taken a more personal turn, with Anne being their target. The movie was nominated for four Oscars and won one of them.

10. Lean on Me

Directed by John G. Avildsen, this American high school drama stars Morgan Freeman, Ethan Phillips, and Beverly Todd in a scintillating performance of 1hr 48 minutes. Based on the life of a real personality, Joe Clark, a high school principal who was fired for his out-of-the-box, non-traditional ways of handling education, this movie is perhaps one of the best and earliest works of Freeman.

Morgan Freeman in Lean on Me
Lean on Me

Freeman plays Joe Clark, the former principal at Eastside High School, who was suspended temporarily by the higher authorities because of his unconventional approaches to running the school, one that was supposedly infested with misfits and rebellious youngsters. However, when Joe returned to his position, he could easily find where the school had fallen from Grace.

Suffering from a lack of care and attention, it has turned into a den for drug peddlers and abusers, and hooligans. Immediately Joe sets off to put things right and is quite successful in his efforts, but that is before the city officials intervene once again. 

11. Good Will Hunting

Robin Williams and Matt Damon turn up in the finest attire to deliver this masterpiece of a classroom drama, except it has very little to learn from staying in the classroom as opposed to learning from everything and everyone around us.

Matt Damon and Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting

Will Hunting is a prodigy; a genius of extraordinary merit but very little means. He has an eidetic memory and an even sharper mind that can quote everything from graduate-level organic chemistry to the laws of the American constitution. He is equally adept in math and science, which attracts Professor Gerald Lamb from Harvard, and the latter wants to take him under his tutelage, free of cost.

However, Will is disturbed and not mentally at peace with himself, suffering from the arrogance of being too brilliant but a constant inferiority complex from being of much humbler means. Gerald takes him to a psychiatrist, Dr. Sean, and their interaction over the years completely changes him as a person.

12. Front of the Class

This docudrama by Peter Werner is once again inspired by true events and is quite culturally significant in its depiction of physically challenged individuals achieving their dreams. James Wolk plays the real-life Brad Cohen, who gets diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome.

A scene from Front of the Class
Front of the Class

Growing up in a divorced household, Brad’s disease went undiagnosed for quite some time before his mother paid attention to him, and after months of research, she discovered that her little boy had got the syndrome. This makes it difficult for Brad to enjoy his childhood like other normal kids, and instead, he’d constantly get picked upon or bullied, but nothing deterred him from going after his dream.

Brad’s only dream was to become a teacher and inspire other kids, students with some physical disability or the other, to rise above these challenges and pursue their ambitions. With much support from his mother and a bittersweet relationship with his father, Brad finally accomplishes his dream, and the ending is as heartfelt as the rest of the movie.

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13. The Great Debaters

Denzel Washington, Denzel Whitaker, and Forest Whitaker star in this beautiful American drama with racial undertones but never managed to steal the limelight away from the main theme, the theme being that of an exemplary teacher who pushes his students to the brink of success.

Denzel Washington in The Great Debaters
The Great Debaters

Based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, this movie revolves around the story of Professor Tolson of Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, who led a batch of students with little expertise in debate to thrash the reigning champions at Harvard at an international forum.

The movie is set in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Harlem Renaissance. Coach Tolson receives an invite, a mockery at best, to submit names of black kids who’d be interested in debating.

This infused in him a zeal to push his students and his community to the forefront of a social forum where they can not only highlight but also deliver in style whatever be asked of them, from mob lynching to racism to sexism and even jealousy in love affairs. 

14. Beyond the Blackboard

Directed by Jeff Bleckner and starring Revenge actress Emily VanCamp, this movie highlights the emotional journey of a young female teacher as she takes up the job of teaching a bunch of disadvantaged students and that too in their makeshift classroom.

Beyond the Blackboard poster
Beyond the Blackboard

The movie is somewhat based on the true story of Stacey Bess, a 24-year-old teacher who got assigned to her post after The McKinney-Vento Homeless Act was passed in 1987, which made public education a basic right for all homeless children till a certain age.

The cast, cinematography, and even the direction are top-notch, and the movie very accurately depicts the gradual transformation in Stacey’s attitude toward her students throughout a few classes.

From being hesitant, a bit judgemental, and overall, somewhat uncertain about teaching the class of homeless kids to looking forward to interacting with them each day, her outlook changed massively, and the child actors were equally brilliant in their roles.

15. Bad Teacher

Directed by Jake Kasdan and starring Cameron Diaz, Jason Segal, and Justin Timberlake, this romantic comedy movie is just what you need to unwind at the end of a hectic week. Diaz plays the role of a young woman who tends to bag rich old men for their money and get by on their allowances.

Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher
Bad Teacher

When the guy she was engaged to breaks up with her, she is broke and joins the local public high school as a substitute teacher to make ends meet. This kicks off a vicious chain of events that includes her showing movies in classes, sleeping till noon, and getting on the bad books of another persistent colleague, Amy.

She meets another recruit, Scott, who is sensitive, kind, and, more importantly, wealthy. Scott and Amy start dating, but soon Elizabeth tries to rope in Scott for her benefit, and when Amy finds out, things take a turn for the worse.  The movie is perfect for a lighthearted watch and has excellent comic timings, with Diaz turning up in her best shoes to deliver an unmistakable performance.

16. Coach Carter

Directed by Thomas Carter, this movie is adapted from the true story of a basketball coach who set out to reform his team and ended up getting his name featured alongside the greatest of the lot. In 1999, Ken Carter took the job of a basketball coach in a high school at Richmond in California.

Samuel L. Jackson in Coach Carter
Coach Carter

The students of the team came from really impoverished sections of the area and lacked discipline or knowledge about the game to do something good in it. Under Carter’s leadership and exemplary expertise, guidance, and training, they started winning matches and even championships and tournaments that bolstered their confidence.

The downside to it was that they started taking their success for granted, became arrogant with each victory, and started neglecting their classes and studies. This made Carter yet again bring them in for a hard time and to teach them the importance of being disciplined in life, no matter how good you get. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Rick Gonzalez, Robert Richard, and Channing Tatum, this movie is a must-watch.

17. Remember the Titans

This is yet another biopic starring Denzel Washington that talks about the struggle to success for sportsman cum coach Herman Boone and his team of baseball players, The Titans. Set in the suburbs of Virginia in the Southern part of the United States, the movie carries a fair bit of a racial undertone.

Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans
Remember the Titans

A school meant exclusively for black students, and that white students are sent to  T.C. Williams High School as part of their cultural and physical integration process. This creates a ruckus and furor among the two groups and even their guardians, putting the fate of their baseball team in jeopardy.

Herman Boone steps into the picture then and is made head coach, overtaking his white counterpart. Under his leadership, the two groups get united, and they collude with such a deep rapport that their partnership itself helps them win the championship 

18. The Class

Directed by Nicholas Celozzi, this 2022 American drama movie focuses on a bunch of students who get detained one day after school with the pretext of completing an exam. This exam is a kind of retest for those who had previously either failed or not appeared for it because of a variety of reasons.

A scene from The Class
The Class

Sharing similarities with the 1985 movie, The Breakfast Club, this movie offers some insight into young students’ minds and forging friendships, lessons on betrayal, and everything in between. Starring Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos, Debbie Gibson, and Charlie Gillespie, this movie is a good classroom drama to watch out for.

19. Up the Down Staircase

Adapted from the 20th-century novel of the same name by Ben Kaufman, this 1967 American movie stars some of the retro A-listers from Hollywood like Patrick Bedford, Sandy Dennis, and Eileen Heckart.

Directed by Robert Mulligan, the movie revolves around a female teacher Sylvia Barrett who just started at Calvin Coolidge High School in New York, which happens to be frequented mostly by students from the poorer sections and the inner slums of the city.

Sandy Dennis in Up the Down Staircase
Up the Down Staircase

Naturally, the school and her classroom, specifically, are in terrible condition, with windows that don’t work well and the school bell that tolls untimely and without bounds. The more Sylvia tries to reach out to her students and help them in their academics and elsewhere, the more hostile they get toward her.

Soon a promising young student drops out, and another sleeps through the class while yet another girl goes desperate over her crush on a male teacher that drives her to the point of suicide. All these make Sylvia’s job even more difficult, that is, before she discovers a way out.

20. Teachers

This is an American satire of sorts, almost bordering on black comedy, that unfolds within a classroom with Nick Nolte as Alex Jurel, a middle-aged high school teacher in the center of it. Directed by Arthur Hiller, the movie focuses on a 34-year-old high school teacher who gets sued by his student for not doing justice to the public education system and a good job at teaching them.

A scene from Teachers

To add to his misery, the lawyer who has been appointed to fight against him is none other than Lisa Hammond, his former student. While Alex has to fight his way out of an impending lawsuit, he tries to help his other students and move them over onto his side, but that only seems to land him in more trouble.

At the same time, the high school principal, Horn, who’s more of a meek disposition, gets roughed up by the school board to oust Alex, and this only adds to the dramatic course of events.

21. The Browning Version

Adapted from the play by Terrence Rattigan of the same name, this movie by Mike Figgs is one of the latter’s most successful directorial ventures and has won one BAFTA and several other nominations. The movie revolves around a history teacher at one of the elite educational institutions in England who is on the verge of retirement and needs to come to terms with the drastic changes it would bring to his personal life.

Jean Kent in The Browning Version
The Browning Version

Andrew Crocker-Harris is a strict disciplinarian and a teacher who likes to stick to his old-school ways within the classroom as opposed to his much younger and new substitute teachers. Disliked by most and feared by all students, he has nicknamed Hitler for his staunch ways and tendency to deliver punishments at the drop of a hat. On the other hand, he has a much younger wife who had an affair with one of her husband’s colleagues.

As Andrew is on the verge of retirement, he has to accept all of these with the best of humor he can summon and, at the same time, make preparations for his life outside the classroom.

22. The Chorus

Directed by Christophe Barratier, this classic French classroom drama is adapted from a novel, “La Cage aux Rossignol” by Georges Chaperot, that focuses on a music teacher and his earnestness to pass on his passion for music to his students. Clement Mathieu plays the role of a middle-aged music teacher who is exasperated with his bunch of unruly students at the strict Fond de l’Etang boarding school.

A scene from The Chorus
The Chorus

The school is headed by a disciplinarian and old-school man, Monsieur Rachin, and he’s determined to bring these boys under control. However, the more coercive the measures get, the more boys become adamant, which makes it even more difficult for the teachers to educate them. Mathieu steps in and decides to bring order to their lives by forming a choir and guiding their youthful energy towards something more strenuous, like singing.

In particular, he strikes up a camaraderie with two students, Pépinot and Morhange, and though they don’t realize it just then, it is revealed later that these two young men helped out Mathieu in ways that they could never think of.

23. Whiplash

Directed by Damien Chazelle, this Oscar-winning movie focuses on a young guy named Andrew who harbors an intense passion for drumming. To fulfill his dreams and ambitions, Andrew enrolled himself in the highly competitive and disciplined music program at Shaffer Conservatory of Music.

A Scene from Whiplash

At Shaffer, Andrew comes under the tutelage of Terence Fletcher, one of the most revered personalities in this field and who has a really bad reputation for pushing people to the edge to bring out the very best in them.

Andrew is ready initially to put in all the extra hours, from rehearsals to the emotional abuse that Terrence might subject him to, since he wants to reach the pinnacle of success, probably in the same league as Buddy Rich. But he undermines exactly what and how Terrence plans to bring out the best in him. The question ultimately boils down to how much one should endure achieving the highest level of success. 

24. Gifted

Directed by Marc Webb, this movie starring Chris Evans and McKenna Grace is one of the best teacher movies that you can think of which is both unapologetic in its depiction and slightly unconventional. Mary is a twelve-year-old-year-old girl who can solve the hardest math problems with utmost ease that can embarrass even the brightest minds.

Chris Evans in Gifted

She is raised by her wayward uncle, Frank, who has no ambitions for himself as such but wants nothing but the best for his niece. Frank’s sister herself was one of the brightest minds on earth, raised by two equally stalwart parents, but unfortunately, she committed suicide as she was unable to cope with the extreme stress that comes with stardom.

Frank wants Mary to not get overwhelmed by her genius and instead enjoy her childhood, whereas Frank’s mother and Mary’s grandmother, Evelyn, want to take full custody of the girl so she can tutor her to be the best. This creates an epic courtroom-classroom drama where Frank emerges to be the best teacher for Mary.

25. McFarland, USA

This 2015 sports drama is based on the true story of Jim White, a high school training coach who turns seven of the most hopeless students into champion runners through his persistence and hard work. Kevin Costner plays the role of Jim White, a running coach and physical education instructor who has been fired from several jobs previously because of his unconventional methods of training young athletes.

Kevin Costner in McFarland, USA
McFarland, USA

After losing his last teaching job, Jim moves his family to the state of McFarland whereupon he joins the State public school as their running coach. He takes seven students under his wing, and ironically these seven students have the most disappointing grades and results.

However, Jim believes in them and starts training them rigorously, so much so that they enroll and win the State championships. The movie is a brilliant depiction of how perseverance and tenacity bring you excellent results in the long run.

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26. A Beautiful Mind

Based on the true story of econometrician and game theorist John Nash and how he came to set up the Nash equilibrium, this movie starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly is a beautiful memoir of sorts. Nobel Laureate John Nash was not born with a silver spoon but instead suffered from a mental illness that made him a social recluse and often arrogant with his academic valor.

Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind
A Beautiful Mind

He achieves significant acclaim in his educational career quite early, after he accepts an assignment from one professor of his, who’s notorious for setting complex problems for his students. Soon, Nash, a genius mathematician, shifts his focus from mathematics to other areas of science, behavioral economics in particular, but his arrogance becomes a fork in the road.

After ages of struggle that dragged him through the trenches of disappointment and depravity, he was finally awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.  His legacy lives on to this date. The movie won 4 Oscars and several other awards and nominations.

27. Easy A

Directed by Will Gluck, this American teen high school rom-com stars Emma Stone and Gossip Girl and You star Penn Badgley. The movie focuses on Emma Stone’s character, Olive, who craves to have a happening social life in high school that might rival the fictional characters from movies like Say Anything or The Breakfast Club.

Emma Stone in Easy A
Easy A

When pressured by her best friend to discuss her personal life in detail, Olive panics and makes up a story about how she is no longer a virgin. The news spreads like wildfire all across high school, turning Olive from just an ordinary girl to an immensely popular persona overnight.

But this also brings in slutshaming and rampant name-calling, all of which Olive takes in her stride. With some help from her high school principal and her set of close friends, she finally comes clean, and this time, people like her more for who she is.

28. Precious

This 2009 indie drama has won several awards, including Academy Awards, for a beautiful depiction of an obese black teenage girl as she struggles with the perils of unplanned pregnancy and racial discrimination. Gabourey Sidibe does a wonderful job at playing the role of Claireece “Precious” Jones, a 16-year-old overweight African American girl who gets pregnant by her father.

A scene from Precious

Coming from an impoverished background with little awareness about society and class struggle or structure, Precious is constantly thrashed at home by her mother and, despite being enrolled at the local school, can neither read nor write. Precious has her kid, Mongo, but unfortunately, the latter gets diagnosed with Down’s syndrome.

When a pregnant Precious gets transferred to an alternative school, she meets the kind yet bold Ms. Blu Rain, who helps her get a proper education and, more importantly, fight for her rights and freedom and find a voice for herself. The movie is one of the best depictions of racial abuse one can think of and has won several awards in various categories.

29. The Miracle Worker

Based upon Helen Keller’s book, The Story of My Life, and several other podcasts, this 1962 biopic by Arthur Penn focuses on the story of the author himself and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, who guided her through her growing years and helped her communicate with the outer world.

A scene from The Miracle Worker
The Miracle Worker

Her parents send Keller to the Perkins institution whereupon she meets Annie, who herself is half blind and an American. Annie and Keller hit it off immediately, with the teacher and student sharing a deeper connection that goes beyond their physical disabilities, and through hard work, tenacity, and stubborn love, Annie helps Keller learn the language of the deaf and dumb.

She teaches her Braille, too, and motivates Helen to chase her dreams of becoming a female educator and helping out numerous disabled kids and women like herself. The movie won several Oscars and other awards and is a must-watch.

30. Half Nelson

Ryan Gosling and Anthony Mackie turned heads with this beautiful and dramatic performance in this 2006 social movie directed by Ryan Fleck that has won several nominations for the Academy Awards and won several Independent Spirit awards. Ryan Gosling plays the role of a white history teacher, Dan Dunne, at the Brooklyn High school, which is primarily frequented by black and Hispanic kids.

Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson
Half Nelson

Dan is an enigma in his classes, with an unparalleled depth in the subject, and has managed to captivate and enthrall his teenage audience with facts and figures from the ancient past to the more recent times. However, outside the classroom, Dan’s life is pretty much a mess owing to his substance abuse, a failed relationship due to drugs and rehab, and a broken connection with his own family.

He meets a young teenage girl, Drey, from his batch who also suffers from a broken family and recently had her brother convicted of drug abuse. Drey and Dan start a platonic, heart-to-heart bonding session at the end, at which they provide solace to each other that makes them view their lives from a positive perspective.

31.  Akeelah and the Bee 

Akeelah Anderson is the least likely 11-year-old you’d name if you were to choose the next Scripps National Spelling Bee champion. This is because although she is a bright girl, she is neither regular in her classes nor is she attentive to her school coursework, and least of all, she is not of a meritorious background.

A Scene from Akeelah and the Bee
Akeelah and the Bee

She comes from a somewhat difficult family background, with her father dying when she was just a toddler and her mother struggling to make ends meet and being absent from her life for most of the time. Her brother runs a local bust with other black boys in their shady neighborhood, and as such, she has to miss her classes most of the time.

When her school principal, as a form of punishment, enrolls her name into the regional Spell Bee competition, and to her surprise, she emerges as the winner, the principal asks her to continue further and gets her under the tutelage of Dr. Larabee.

Akeelah has several insecurities of her own that tend to impede her path to success, and even Larabee is not without her demons. Together they work in a collusive fashion to help each other out in the most heartwarming way possible.

32. Detachment

Directed by Tony Kaye, this 2011 American classroom drama stars Adrien Brody as an emotionally detached and struggling public high school teacher, Henry Barthes, and his class of social misfits who strike an amazing camaraderie among themselves by his teaching.

Adrien Brody in Detachment

Henry chose to be a substitute English teacher initially since he wanted to minimize his communication and attachment with his students. But at the new school, the education system is pretty much in turmoil, as are the faculties, and together it has made the batch of students negligent towards their education and arrogant in their attitude.

When Henry joins the school, he quickly gets on their good books by not only taking his teachings outside the confines of the classroom but also by actually caring about the students. He soon forms a special rapport in some way or the other with each student, especially a runaway teenage girl, and they help each other out in figuring out the beauty and darkness that is encapsulated in the world around them.

33. Children of a Lesser God 

Adapted from the stage play by Mark Medoff, this movie by Randa Haines follows the story of a speech teacher, James Leeds, who falls in love with the high school janitor who happens to be dumb, but the irony is she is dumb by choice.

A scene from Children of a Lesser God 
Children of a Lesser God

James is known for his unconventional approach to teaching the deaf and the mute and has helped them in more ways than one to lead a normal, healthy, and happy life. He gets transferred to a new school for the disabled on the New England coast to teach the upper-grade students how to communicate, and there he encounters the 25-year-old Sarah Norman.

Sarah was born deaf but, due to tumultuous family conditions and strained relations with her mother, has sworn off speech in total. James approaches Sarah on the pretext of helping her speak and break the ice but is unsuccessful in his attempts. Trouble ensues when he falls in love with her, and Sarah falls for him, too, but the gap between the speechless and those with speech becomes too large to be breached. 

34. The Breakfast Club

Written and directed by John Hughes, this 1985 American teenage drama revolves around five students who get detained one day after school and spend hours with each other. Initially hostile, they soon warm up to each other and realize that they share quite a few common features that help them bond even more strongly.

A scene from The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club

Shermer High School students Claire, Andrew, John, Brian, and Allison hardly associate with each other outside class owing to their varied fields of interests and backgrounds. One is the typical high school queen gal, the other is pretty much stupid, another harbors a strong knack for athletics, and the fourth one is a strong silent geek, yet the fifth one is notorious for his pickpocketing habits.

When all get detained on a particular Saturday at the school library and have to present an essay about what they think of themselves, it makes them question their very purpose on Earth, the people they share the space with, and, more importantly, their views and perspectives of life. The movie is not your ordinary classroom drama and is tailor-made for several rewatches.

35. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Written and directed by Stephen Chobsky, this 2012 romantic coming-of-age drama about a mentally depressed high school kid, Charlie, and his band of teenage friends who have issues themselves, is one of the most heartwarming movies that every youngster must watch. Charlie is a clinically depressed high school student who has had a troubled childhood, starting from his aunt’s death and later his best friend’s suicide.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower poster
The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Owing to these incidents, he has trouble communicating with people outside his family, but that is before he meets Patrick and her stepsister, Sam.

More importantly, his English teacher, Mr. Anderson, played by Paul Rudd, helps Charlie overcome his fear ls of stepping out into the world and making friends, and over time, Charlie learns how to live, laugh, and enjoy life like any other normal 17-year-old. Starring Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson, this movie should be included in your watchlist.

36.  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

This 80’s quintessential American romcom is written and directed by John Hughes, who is often credited with excellent teenage-themed movies like “Sixteen Candles”, “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink.” Mathew Broderick plays the role of Ferris Bueller, a high school student who just wants to bunk one school day and drive off to the beach with his friend Cameron and his girlfriend, Sloane.

Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Accordingly, he coaxes Cameron to steal his father’s Ferrari and ride off to Chicago, but soon the word reaches the ears of the rookie school principal, Ed Rooney. Ed wants to catch Ferris red-handed in trying to escape from school, and this kicks off an interesting sequence of events with the trio trying to escape Ed’s grasp and devising clever ways to do the same.

37. Matilda

This 1996 American movie by Danny DeVito is adapted from Roald Dahl’s novel by the same name that revolves around a little girl who has extraordinary brain capacity and a knack for learning more and reading more. 12-year-old Matilda is not like other girls of her age, nor is she like anyone from her own family.

A scene from Matilda

Her brother has a knack for stirring up fights and has his eyes glued to the action cartoons on TV. Her parents are equally abhorrent about her passion for learning and would rather spend their time before the television set, learning nothing and getting their brains scrambled with all kinds of nonsensical things.

So to get rid of Matilda, they enroll her in a private school run by the strict and frightening Agatha Trunchbull, who is notorious for her hatred toward children. Matilda’s class teacher, Ms. Honey, is, however, an intensely sweet and docile young lady who recognizes Matilda’s genius and helps her realize the extent of her mind powers to their full capacities.

Read:   51 Musical Movies Like Burlesque To Check Out in 2023

38. The Principal

Directed by Christopher Cain, this American movie is more of a crime-thriller drama as opposed to a classroom drama but manages to pack in quite a punch and is a good watch. Jim Belushi plays the role of Rick Latimer, a high school principal who gets a transfer from his last school to a new one that has a bad reputation for being a camp for drug users, dealers, and other types of illegal activities.

Jim Belushi in The Principal
The Principal

Even Rick’s transfer was not a simple one since he had previously beaten up the guy who was having an illicit secret affair with his wife. This made him a flight risk at the previous school, and he was sent to the new one as a means of rectifying himself as well as the kids. However, this will not be an easy task for Rick as we will soon get to know them.

39. The History Boys

Adapted from the novel by the same name by Alan Bennett, this 2006 British movie by Nicholas Hytner has won several BAFTA awards and is a masterful depiction of high school drama.

In the 1980s, Cutler’s Grammar School was notorious for grooming young men with extraordinary merit, both academically and culturally, that would guarantee their acceptance to socially elite higher educational institutions like Oxford and Cambridge.

The History Boys cast
The History Boys

Two of the faculty members who have been recruited to groom these young men are Mrs. Dorothy Lintott, who teaches history, and the highly intellectual  Mr. Hector.

However, when a group of cheeky young men disrupts the general quietude in the classroom, the dissatisfied principal appoints another young teacher, Mr. Irwin, to teach the class, and soon under the guidance of all three, the arrogant brainiacs turn into master debaters fit for Oxford.

40. One Eight Seven

Directed by Kevin Reynolds, this 1997 movie is about street violence in urban neighborhoods and especially against African-American people. Trevor Garfield happened to be a teacher at a New York public school, but after a vicious attempt was made on his life by a student in the school hallway, he gets transferred to Los Angeles. There he again runs into trouble with a local ganglord, who also happens to be his student, Benny.

A scene from One Eight Seven
One Eight Seven

Benny has engaged in quite a few criminal activities and did not attempt to hide his hatred for Garfield. When Garfield learns that Benny has threatened other teachers too and even murdered one guy from his rival tagging team, he becomes the next target Benny and must do everything to keep himself away from his clutches and, at the same time, deliver him to the hands of the law.

41. The Blind Side

Directed by John Lee Hancock, this 2006 Sandra Bullock starrer is nothing but your conventional film on how prevalent racism is in the suburban south of the States. Based on a novel of the same name by Michael Lewis, the narrative follows a big, yet meek-natured Michael Oher, a black kid who was put up for foster care after his mother was caught in a drug abuse scandal and the neighborhood where he lived got busted in by the cops.

Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
The Blind Side

He gets put up with Anne Lee Tuohy’s family, a white woman who has everything- from an idyllic bungalow in the posh suburbs to a loving husband and two beautiful kids, a girl, and a boy. Michael has been severely traumatized since childhood, owing to his broken family and the kind of people he has grown up around. Anne takes charge of Michael in the most matronly way possible and discovers that he’s talented in baseball.

Thus starts Anne’s journey in pushing Michael to his limits and supporting him at every step along the way, just so he can get into the highly coveted scholarship program at the NCAA Division I and finally play for the Ravens. 

42. The Karate Kid

Directed by Harald Zwart and starring Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, and kung-fu master Jackie Chan, this 2010 American movie has been inspired by the Karate Kid series that came out in the 1980s.

Dre and his mother move to China after the mother gets transferred to a better-paying job, and he gets enrolled in their public school. Both Dre and his mother have a hard time adjusting to the Chinese ways of life, with not many English-speaking natives about them and certainly vastly different food and lifestyle choices.

Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith in The Karate Kid
The Karate Kid

When Dre gets bullied by another guy from his batch, Cheng, he seeks help from the local handyman at his complex to stand up for himself. But Mr. Han wouldn’t teach him the tricks of the trade that easily.

His unconventional ways of teaching kung-fu disappoint Dre initially, but the more he learns, the better he gets at it, so much so that he participates in the national Karate championships, where Cheng has been the reigning champion for two consecutive years.

43. Monsieur Lazhar

Director Philippe Falardeau pulled an extravaganza out of his fanny pack and delivered it to the audience in a way that people would keep talking about for years to come. This 2011 French-Canadian drama stars Mohamed Fellag as an Algerian immigrant who gets recruited at the Montréal public grade school to teach the lower-grade kids.

A scene from Monsieur Lazhar
Monsieur Lazhar

He is brought in to replace a former teacher who took his life in the classroom by hanging herself from the ceiling while the students were out during recess. The school brings in psychologists and counselors to talk to the traumatized kids and Bachir Lazhar to take her classes.

What was not known then was that even Lazhar had his share of ups and downs, grief and despair brought upon by a similar tragic yet horrifying incident in his past.

When he tried to get his students to talk it out with him in an attempt to help all of them move on from the same, he was faced with stern disapproval from the school authorities. The movie is a heartwarming and provoking depiction of the uncertainty of human life and the need to counsel during periods of grief just for all of us to get a bit better.

44. Not One Less

Directed by Yi-Mou Zhangd, this 1999 Chinese drama has won a series of accolades, including the Golden Lion, and is quite a heart-rendering portrayal of the beautiful camaraderie that is often shared by a student and a teacher. Minzhi is a 13-year-old girl living in the remote mountains of China with almost little to no knowledge of reading and writing.

Not One Less
Not One Less

Coming from an impoverished background, she has a deep-rooted yearning to learn how to read and write but is unable to afford the means. When the village school teacher has to leave her post for a month to take care of his ailing mother, he calls upon Minzhi to manage the school while he’s away and promises her an extra payment of 10 yuan if she can hold onto all the students.

Minzhi eagerly takes on the job, but on her second day, a kid withdraws from school just so he can go and work in the city, and Minzhi must bring him back. She hitchhikes to the city only to find the boy there, utterly lost and begging on the streets for food and money.

45. Never Back Down

Directed by Jake Wadlow and starring Sean Faris, Amber Heard, and Cam Gigandet, this movie is an action drama that revolves around a new kid Jake and his gradual indulgence in kickboxing. Proceeding along similar lines as The Karate Kid movies, Jake Tyler is an angsty teenager with a troubled childhood, a single mother and absentee father, who joins a new high school in the middle of the year.

A scene from Never Back Down
Never Back Down

Jake has a knack for starting up fights, not by his fault necessarily, and whenever he does, they tend to get way out of hand and result in almost suspension. At the new school, he unwittingly gets involved in a gang that practices martial arts but is mostly run by high school bullies.

When the leader of the pack, Ryan, beats up Jake’s best friend, Max, he decides to take matters into his own hands. He takes proper training lessons from a black man, Jean Roqua, who himself has a troubled relationship with martial arts, despite being extremely proficient at it.  Jake and Jean bond over their mutual love for the action sport as well as their emotional turmoil, and soon, high school gets better for Jake.

46. A Single Man

Directed by Tom Ford and boasting a stellar cast comprising Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, and Nicholas Hoult, this Academy award-winning movie is a deep, psychologically probing, masterful depiction of a traumatized human mind. Firth plays the role of a British English professor at a college in Los Angeles who lost his partner and longtime boyfriend, Jim, to a tragic road accident when the latter was on his way to visit his family.

Colin Firth and Matthew Goode in A Single Man
A Single Man

To this date, George regrets not being able to see Jim in his dying moments or even being able to hold him for the last time at his funeral. After 8 years of living in loneliness and melancholy, George decides to commit suicide and accordingly proceeds about his day as if it would be his last on Earth. He tries to set his details straight and even makes a will but soon goes back to reminiscing his time with Jim.

Ironically, however, he gets interrupted in his resolve by several other personalities, including his best friend and a college student who wants to get to know him beyond the classroom. All these encounters make George second guess his decision and whether taking his own life might be the only solution.

47. The Sound of Music

Directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in the lead roles, this classic vintage film is one that everyone should watch, irrespective of whether you’re young or old. Andrews plays the role of Maria, a young nun who has a tendency for running into troubles but has a voice that would make angels drop from heaven.

Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music

After an unfortunate run-in at her church, Maria is sent to the Von Trapps as the governess to the Baron’s kids as a form of punishment. The Baron is widowed and his kids, varying in age from 4 to 16 years old, are nothing but miscreants and pranksters who have a reputation for driving away every tutor and governess in the past. However, the kids take to Maria quite well over time, and soon the Baron and Maria fall in love.

The only problem arises when the German Nazi troops set out after Baron Von Trapp and his family after Austria falls under Hitler-occupied Germany. The movie has won several Academy Awards and is probably one of the most successful movies by Andrews.

48. The Edge of Seventeen

Director Kelly Fremon Craig penned a thought-provoking teenage story from scratch with this particular movie that stars Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson in the lead roles. It is a beautiful and funny coming-of-age drama about high school student Nadine who is socially awkward and has just graduated from the upper class.

The Edge of Seventeen
The Edge of Seventeen

Already high school is giving her a tough time, with boys being more than friends and mostly crushes, and girlfriends, talking about sex, and a lot of uncertainty about what career to pursue in the future. When Nadine’s best friend Krista starts dating her older brother, who also happens to be the popular jock in school, Nadine feels completely by herself.

Lonely and sad, she takes the help of Mr. Bruner, her teacher, who counsels her during episodes of depression and helps her see a positive side to life. She also befriends another guy, Erwin, and soon starts to overcome her initial phase of teenage angst, frustration, loneliness, and awkwardness.

49. Taare Zameen par

Also known as Like Stars on Earth in English, this Bollywood movie stars Amir Khan in his career-high acting role as a young art teacher at a school where he helps specially challenged kids to live, learn and laugh. Darsheel Safari plays the role of Ishaan Awasthi, who suffers from dyslexia but has gone undiagnosed for years.

Amir Khan in Taare Zameen par
Taare Zameen par

Ishaan has a tough time following what is taught in class and the words on the blackboard and is neither academically strong nor exceptionally brilliant in sports. This makes him the constant punching bag for his strict father, who has a very narrow vision of brilliance and genius. Compared to Ishaan, his older brother is the apple of the eye to his father, being academically meritorious and a star tennis player.

Frustrated with his school performance and much against his mother’s wishes, his father sends him off to a hostel so he can get disciplined, and there Ishaan encounters art teacher Ram. Ram realizes Ishaan’s disability and, more importantly, discovers his hidden genius at painting. Together the two form a wholesome camaraderie that surpasses teacher-student relationships.

50. Miss Stevens

Written and directed by debutant Julia Hart this American comedy-drama stars Lili Reinhart, Timothee Chalamet, and The Office star Oscar Nunez in a funny sequence of events. Lily Rabe plays the role of a heartbroken high school teacher Miss Stevens who has to chaperone three students as they make their way to a drama competition.

A scene from Miss Stevens
Miss Stevens

Stevens is reluctant to take on the job initially since she feels she might not essentially be the best person to handle three adolescents all by themselves and who are prone to get out of control. It can get ever so difficult trying to be the only responsible adult in a room full of kids.

But as they make their journey to the competition, they learn about each other, and Stevens realizes that theirs is more than just a coming-of-age story. She also rediscovers herself along the way, and all of it makes the movie much more entertaining to watch.

So here is the list of 50 best teacher movies you can hope to see. These movies are not all reliant on solid moral grounds and lessons but also have elements of ridicule, fun, tragedy, and motivation. Every movie has some deep message that would make you think and feel things differently, and we would strongly recommend giving them a try if you haven’t already.

Also read: 50 Best Musical Movies That Will Make You Hum the Melody!

By dikshita Saha

An avid reader of books and love to fan-girl over fictional male characters from romantic novels

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