Feel Good Teacher Movies?What are your favorite feel-good-teacher movies?  You know, the inspirationally cheesy ones that make you glad you are a teacher??  Mine: The Dead Poet's SocietyDangerous...

Feel Good Teacher Movies?

What are your favorite feel-good-teacher movies?  You know, the inspirationally cheesy ones that make you glad you are a teacher??  Mine:

The Dead Poet's Society
Dangerous Minds

Expert Answers
Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm surprised more people haven't mentioned Lean on Me!  (Good job, "brettd"!) Morgan Freeman as Joe Clark!?!  Perhaps it's a function of having my first (and possibly most rewarding) experience take place in an inner city school, . . . but Joe Clark's tough love really spoke to me.  So, . . . if you haven't seen it yet, for goodness sake, watch it!

To get a little bit more recent (and possibly a bit more depressing), I don't want to neglect Precious either.  Yes, the book is even more powerful, . . . but I maintain that Precious is truly the "other side" of The Blind Side.  It will disturb you if you haven't read/seen it yet (and some people condemn it for just that reason); however, it does contain the story of a very inspirational teacher even though she remains only a secondary character.

Okay, now I have to be redundant, because Dead Poets Society is my all-time favorite.  I remember seeing it for the first time in high school, connecting the loyalty of those boys to my own loyalty of a particular inspirational teacher I had myself, . . . and I just totally broke down.  It remains the only movie that made me cry, . . . for two straight hours.  Now THAT is being moved!  Heck, I didn't even do that at the end of Titanic!  Or Romeo and Juliet!  LOL!  The secret fact is, . . . I actually use almost all of Mr. Keating's lessons in my own classroom (with a few of my own aesthetic variations).  Furthermore, the last blog post I wrote for the eNotes blog was about a student question that rekindled my love for the movie yet again.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My favorite feel good teacher's movie was "Mr. Holland's Opus."  The reason I like it was that is showed that no matter how unimportant Mr. Holland felt and how wasted he felt his life was, he was totally unprepared for the effect he'd had on countless students through the years.  Even though he didn't get to live his dream of being a conductor in an orchestra, he inspired his students to live large, dream big, and "go long."  Many of them went on to do great things and be great people.

As a teacher, many times I feel like I'm not making a difference and that I could be doing something more with my life.  But teaching doesn't give immediate results!  The effects of your influence on somebody might not be felt for years, maybe for generations.  You just have to be patient, have faith, and keep teaching.  That's the overall heart-warming message I got from this wonderful movie!

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have always loved "Educating Rita."  I think that it really helps me when I am lost in how I perceive education and my role in it.  Dr. Bryant is one of my all time favorite characters and the way in which Michael Caine portrayed him is wonderful.  I love the theme that education is both redemptive and real, consisting of elements to be embraced and vigilant.  The idea of education as being the key to change- personal or social- is one that I hold dear.  It's not a very cheesy film, but I look at it as one of those elements that I need whenever I feel down about where I am and what I do.  It is perfect after one of those days where you wonder why you do what you do.

engtchr5 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here they are, in order of favoritism:

1. Dead Poets Society

2. The Man Without a Face (starring Mel Gibson)

3. Finding Forrester

4. Dangerous Minds

5. Stand and Deliver

6. Front of the Class (it's a Hallmark film, look it up)

7. Lean on Me (this one's really more for administrators)

8. The Emperor's Club (a cheap rip-off of DPS, but worth watching)

9. Akeelah and the Bee (not exactly a teaching film, but definitely feel-good)

10. Facing the Giants (again, not so much a teaching film, but shows the power of coaches and mentors in student lives)

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'll second Teachers with Nick Nolte, although it is hard to find.  For, the more recalcitrant students enjoy this one as it portrays teachers with flaws.  The substitute who is from a mental institution (something like this, anyway) becomes an effective teacher as he dresses up as George Washington and brings a boat into the classroom so that the students can "cross the Delaware."  The bored students become engaged!

The teacher who hands out worksheets only and dies without any one noticing, is great,too.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No mention of Freedom Writers, I see.  This is one my kids recommended to me and which I then watched with some trepidation.  (Would the teacher be a "good guy" or a "bad guy"?!)  I really enjoyed it; reminded me of the power of words.

Not to be redundant, but Dead Poets Society is the ultimate teacher story for English/literature teachers.  Who hasn't used the "ripping out the pages" scene to introduce a poetry unit?  Classic.

kristenfusaro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As an English teacher, Dead Poets Society is number one! I would love to be Mr. Keating to one of my students.

Stand and Deliver makes a great one, especially for AP teachers, or teachers in underprivileged schools.

Mr. Holland's Opus for music teachers.

Freedom Writers (see Dead Poets Society and combine Dangerous Minds)


doctorthompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator
In reply to #18: Maybe so, but you must remember that, as soon as she followed that group of kids through graduation, she left teaching and became a motivational speaker. Also, all the cool things she did were funded by her rich father. I'd go with Radio or Remember the Titans. Even though these movies showcase coaches, they teach life skills that we can all learn from. I use both in my leadership class. Also, Pay It Forward...
burbina eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Finding Forrester is an AWESOME movie for English teachers.  Sean Connery plays a hypothetical teacher outside of the realm of education, but directly in the sense of teaching the kid from the Bronx how to use his writing skills to their fullest potential.  It also has a "lesson to learn" about plagiarism, and a good example for a class assignment.

If you haven't seen it...DO!

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Definite vote for Dead Poets' Society - very inspiring and really motivating - especially after a tough day at school! As for others, I must admit to having a secret liking for Mona Lisa Smile and the film version of Educating Rita. This last one is particularly interesting given its focus on adult education - the "teacher" is a very interesting character!

ktmagalia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'd have to say Blind Side made me feel good about being in the lives of young people. Even though the mother was not a teacher, she reminds me of the power one person can make on another.  If it wasn't for the mother involving herself in the education of Michael Oher, Old Miss would have been less one football player as the NFL would. I love this movie.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I could second Mr. Holland's Opus, but I'd also add Akeelah and the Bee and Lean on Me with Morgan Freeman.  Plus, just for fun (not sure it fits the "inspirational" category) I'd add Teachers with Nick Nolte, just for the great one liners and the History teacher who flipped out.  Man after my own heart.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Would have to agree with everyone elses selection of Dead Poets Society as one of the best teacher movies. Also really enjoyed Coach Carter, kind of along the same line as Coach Carter is a movie we found called the Hurricane Season. It is about a coach and his team post Katrina.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Miracle Worker may not have a classroom, but I teach special ed, and have worked with kids with all kinds of disabilities.

To Sir, With Love may be old, and I haven't seen it in a long time so it may be dated to the nth degree, but I liked Sidney Poitier connecting with the tough kids.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Good Will Hunting is a great teacher movie, and so is The Man Without a Face.  They both portray teachers as every-day heros who influence kids daily just because they (the teachers) keep showing up and giving every day their best effort.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As an English teacher, Dead Poet's Society ranks at or near the top of my list. For music teachers, Mr. Holland's Opus (starring Richard Dreyfuss) is a good one. An oldie but goodie is Teachers (starring a younger Nick Nolte).

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I love The Emperor's Club with Kevin Kline.  It's loosely based on Ethan Canin's short story, "The Palace Thief," and includes great quotes and tons of closure (for those like me who love that sort of thing:).


kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Really old school (pardon the pun) but 'Goodnight, Mr Chips' was a good weepie. Dangerous Minds would make my list, but I also like Coach Carter. For fun I would go with The History Boys - the stage play is great too!

changchengliang eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yep.  I would agree that Dead Poets' Society is one of the best motivational movies for teachers that I have seen.  Robin Williams really exemplified what a passionate teacher should be like.

Scott Locklear eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'll definitely have to second Dead Poet's Society, and I'll also throw in another: Stand and Deliver.

dastice eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I recently watched School of Life (2005) with Ryan Reynolds, and found myself surprisingly moved.  It reminded me what kind of teacher I want myself to be.

MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dead Poet's Society, all the way. I show it in conjunction with the study of A Separate Peace in my sophomore classes. They love it every time.

lsb14 | Student


  • Lean On Me
  • Freedom Writer's
  • Coach Carter
  • Karate Kid I
  • Won't Back Down
thewanderlust878 | Student

I think a great teacher movie is Words and Pictures. It is about an art instructor and an English teacher form a rivalry that ends up with a competition at their school in which students decide whether words or pictures are more important. I think this great because it allows other teachers to see, and students as well, the competition of "which is better" in terms of education. 

nuancha | Student

I like Mr. Holland’s Opus best. it's an American film, which narrates a story about an ordinal musical teacher: Mr. Holland. Mr. Holland contributed 30 years’ life to teach his students. Not for money and for fame. All his students are deeply affected by him. A correct comparison is for him in the film: the leader of a symphony orchestra. And every student is one of his notes, his opus.

rhonda3035 | Student

Mr. Holland's Opus wins this hands down!  This movie depicts the pressure teachers place on themselves to immerse themselves in their work - often to the detriment of their own family.  Richard Dreyfus delivered an extremely realistic performance, sharing the challenges and heartaches of both the professional life and the family life of a teacher.  Of course the best part was what every teacher fantasizes about...the recognition and love of former students and the community.

kblakesley | Student

"Feel good" teacher movies are excellent motivational items to make teachers feel good and to elicite student awareness. As an Art teacher, I have used numerous "feel good" teacher movies in the classroom as motivation for students.

The 1995 movie "Mr. Holland's Opus" is a natural inspiration to what teaching does for the teacher and how much impact a good teacher makes on students. Studying the music genre in Art class provides unique lessons to multicultural musical instruments. Placing the student in the mind set of learning values through music helps to elicit interesting projects.

Personal favorites I enjoy watching at home include: "Lean on Me" (1989), "Dangerous Minds" (1985), "School of Rock" (2003) and "Remember the Titans" (2000). An odd addition to this list is "What Dreams May Come" (2002) which uses art throughout the movie to bring two souls back together. "What Dreams May Come" is a deep movie and has an interesting beginning. Exploring the use of famous artworks throughout the movie helps me to solidify the importance of art being taught to students within the K-12 school system.


windtwirler | Student

My all time feel good teacher movie has to be Mr. Holland's Opus.  I had the opportunity to watch it again last week and it still gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes.


teachergirl1970 | Student

I'm right there with you all with Dead Poets Society! I recently saw Freedom Writers and it was an inspiration! There is also a French film about a school in a small town (of course I can't remember the name!) that was really interesting too.

hollam79 | Student

I pretty much favor any teacher movie, but if I had to choose, I can give you 2.

1. Dangerous Minds- because at the time I was working/going to school in Philly and the schools I went to and observed at, I was quite afraid of.  ^^

2. Freedom Writers-because my principal mentioned it to our staff and it was a great way to encourage writing to our students. 

mkcapen1 | Student
Feel Good Teacher Movies?

What are your favorite feel-good-teacher movies?  You know, the inspirationally cheesy ones that make you glad you are a teacher??  Mine:

The Dead Poet's Society
Dangerous Minds


I have to say that I liked the one "Pay It Forward" and "Good Will Hunting" and best of all "To Sir with Love."  To me it was the beginning of the teaching to the student's needs movies.

pamla | Student

I collect teacher movies for the inspiration that they give me.  One that has always encouraged me has been a little known TV movie called The Marva Collins' Story, which was a movie on the Hallmark Hall of Fame in 1981.  It's based on the book, Marva Collins' Way by Marva Collins and Civia Tamarkin.

It tells the true story of Marva Collins, a Chicago public school teacher who started Westside Preparatory School in 1975, where, for more than 30 years, she taught elementary aged children, many of whom were children that had been labeled as learning disabled by the public schools they came from, with great success.

Marva and her husband are portrayed by two of my favorite actors, Cecily Tyson and Morgan Freeman.  I would highly recommend it.

lollicam | Student

In addition to ALL of the above mentioned movies, two of my favorites are "Dangerous Minds" and "October Sky".  When I need a crazy check I watch "As Good as it Gets". <Sometimes you just have to go there>

brownbutterfly | Student

I would second The Miracle Worker.  It takes a special person to teach special children.  Teaching high school students is tough enough, but special education children are in a totally different level. 

However, my favorite teacher movie is Freedom Writers.  It not only is very inspirational, but it was very well done and the actors were great.  It is also a great movie to show to students.  It has a very contemporary theme and production with its music and situations, and it has many subtle lessons from which kids can learn without feeling like they are being coerced into it.  I would like to contact the real Mrs. Gruwell and ask why she thought she should sacrifice so much of her personal life for her job! I do love teaching and my students, but I do love my life too!

helopontes | Student

"Freedom writers" - (director Richard LaGravenese) is a biographical movie about the successful experience of Erin Gruwell (played by hillary Swank) in a class of at-risk students. It brings so many important messages such as tolerance among ethnic groups, the challenges facing a school system in a society where the family structure is disrupted and functionless, as mere examples. Much could be said but I like to focus in the aspect of listening to the students, or giving the students the opportunity of expressing themselves. Through this, students became acquainted to the similarities of their pains and difficulties. Maybe this is important to remember that recognition is one of our crucial inner needs. More than social awareness this movie brings hope to our lives. 

cadets | Student

Thumbs up for Dead Poets here, as well.  Here is a goofy one that might not make anyone's top 10: Wildcats, with Goldie Hawn.  A great lesson in meeting kids where they are and considering all kids worthy of our effort.