One unexpected benefit of my gym membership has been seeing movies I’d not have tried otherwise. In a cool, darkened room filled with treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes, I watch 30 minutes or so (depending on my energy level) of whatever movie they choose, without noticing (or suffering) how long I’m exercising!
Some of those movies have been amazing (and some were amazingly horrible). And a few of them feature stories that would appeal to any teacher, without falling into the typical, mainstream “inspirational teacher” clichés.
As you enjoy the summer break or a weekend, take a little time to inspired by some true (and some merely “inspired by true events”) movies about teachers.
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995). Mr. Holland believes that a teaching career will leave him plenty free time to compose his classical masterpiece—his opus. Instead, he finds that his life’s calling is to be a teacher. “Mr. Holland’s Opus” reminds us that our grandest creation is not something the world judges to be a success, but is something that changes lives—both our students and our own.
The Freedom Writers. (2007) This is the true story of a totally clueless teacher who made a difference. She began teaching at an inner city school with children stuck in poverty. She helped them overcome—with lots of hard work, tears, and mistakes— through writing about their experiences.
Here Comes the Bomb. (2015) So this one really isn’t a true story, but I totally enjoyed it! Larry is a high school science teacher who’s lost his passion for teaching. He’s become “one of those teachers” who has their kids just read and complete worksheets. But he gets a kick in the pants from budget cuts, and enters a kickboxing competition to earn money for the school and his students. Talk about getting your butt kicked by love! This one made me laugh so much that my eyes watered, as I watched Larry get his teacher groove back.
The Ron Clark Story (2006). Maybe you’ve heard of Ron Clark? He intentionally sought a position in an inner city school when he was fresh out of college. His goal was to change lives. Boy, did he ever! The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia is one of the premier schools districts many teachers visit to learn how a successful school works. He not only changed the lives of countless students in his classroom, he now changes the lives of students and teachers in his school and in the entire country.
What I hope you’ll notice is that all these stories demonstrate teachers bringing all of who they are into the classroom. They work hard but hold themselves to their own standards—no one else’s. They are completely true to who they are as individuals and as teachers.
They remind us of how we can be our best teacher selves. Whether boxing, writing, or composing music, teachers draw on their best, truest selves to excel in our classrooms. And that example inspires our students and everyone around us.
The last movie on my list is maybe the best teacher movie is yet to be made—-maybe it’s your story?