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5 Motivational Movies for Teachers

Janelle Cox

To be a great educator, you must be able to provide guidance and support, as well as meet the needs of all of your students. For many teachers, this is a no-brainer. Part of being a teacher is to be an inspiration to others. But sometimes, that can be hard: That is why Hollywood made motivational movies for teachers to help inspire them to be everything that they can be. Here are the top five must-see movies to gain great inspiration to make a difference in all lives of your students.

“Stand and Deliver”

Based on the true story of Jaime Escalante, an influential public school teacher, this film depicts how a rebellious math teacher transforms a low-performing high school into one of the top-scoring in the state. As Escalante realizes the potential of his Hispanic students, he sets a goal of having them take AP Calculus by their senior year. When his students finally succeed, to his dismay, the Educational Testing Service accuses the students of cheating on the exam. This inspiring story has resonated with many inner-city schoolteachers who try and emulate his methods still to this day.

“Mr. Holland’s Opus”

Richard Dreyfuss plays an inspiring high school music teacher in the film “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Glenn Holland is a failed composer who takes a job as a music teacher because he assumes it will give him a lot of free time to work on his own music. Instead, he ends up mentoring and sharing his love of music with his students which he ultimately finds his life passion as a teacher. This inspiring film shows how much of an impact one single teacher can have on the lives of their students. In a time when music education and the arts are being put on the back burner in many schools across the nation, this film is here to remind, and inspire us about the importance of music education in our schools.

“Lean On Me”

The incredible actor Morgan Freeman takes on the challenge of playing a radical principal who tries to reform a violent high school with some questionable tactics. Freeman pushes to improve school spirit and punish those who don’t follow the rules. His extreme approach may shock those around him, but is what ultimately helps to change the lives of the students in the school. Loosely based on a true story, this film has captivated viewers by showing them that when things are tough, with a little perseverance, they can indeed change.

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“Good Will Hunting”

Most inspiring movies about teachers are usually based upon the notion that the teacher somehow inspires the student to do better in school or helps them through some sort of situation that will better them academically or musically. However, in “Good Will Hunting,” Robin Williams plays the role of a teacher who helps Matt Damon’s character take the opportunities that will benefit his talents. Matt Damon already knows how smart he is, he’s just afraid of everything that will come with his knowledge. So Robin Williams (his teacher) is there as a guide and mentor to push and watch him succeed.

“Dead Poets Society”

This film is probably one of the most infamous motivational movies for teachers. Robin Williams (again) stars as an inspiring, yet rebellious teacher who from the very beginning of the movie is there to shake things up in the classroom. This film is full of inspiring quotes and metaphors that are every teacher’s dream. It is not only wonderfully inspiring, but is also incredibly heartwarming. You will never forget the scene where the students recite “Oh captain, my captain,” which has become somewhat of a hallmark moment in pop culture today.

Teachers make a difference in the lives of their students there is no denying that. If you are looking for a little inspiration to help motivate you to become the best educator that you can be, then all five of these films will do that for you.

What are your favorite motivational movies for teachers? Please share your favorites in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.