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Most Inspiring Movies About Teachers

Happy Teacher's Day! Here's a watchlist dedicated to the educators who inspired us most

While we all might have encountered a few teachers we weren't very fond of, surely there was at least one who made an indellible mark on our lives. 

Maybe it was their kindness, patience, or humor that made the classroom a better place, or perhaps it was their unwavering determination to push their students to succeed that continued to inspire them long after graduation. To all the teachers who have helped hundreds (or even thousands) of students—including us—to become their very best selves, Happy Teacher's Day!

Here to help you reminisce your best memories with your favorite educators and all the good they've done is this list of movies featuring inspiring teachers and the life-changing times they spent with their students. 



Mona Lisa Smile (2003), 

Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles


This gem of a movie might be 15 years old, but its message still rings true today. Multi-awarded actress julia Roberts plays a forward-thinking 1950s Wellesley art professor who challenges the university's all-female population to rethink their gender roles. Set in a time when women were expected to confine themselves to the home and give up all prospects of an education and career after marriage, the film masterfully tells the story of social awakening of the empowered woman we all know today. 


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Julia's character stirs controversy in the university, making a few enemies along the way, but ultimately inspiring a new generation of young women to dream bigger and break the mold. 




Dead Poets Society (1989), 

Robin Williams, Ethan Hawk


The late, great Robin Williams' Professor John Keating led his class of adolescent school boys on a journey of self-discovery and a lifelong love affair with literature in this 80s favorite. Initially perceived as an eccentric academic out of touch with his school's values of academic excellence and preserving tradition, Robin stands his ground, refusing to bend to centuries-old standards of behavior for the institution's faculty and students.


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His efforts culminate in a graduating class whose students have learned to think for themselves and out of the box for the very first time; they learn the value of forming their own convictions and sticking to them even in the face of opposition. The rebel mentor trope is magically brought to life by a convincing Robin who makes us want to exclaim, ?"Oh captain, my captain!" just as proudly. 




School of Rock (2003),

Jack Black, Joan Cusack


Teachers aren't always the proper, grown-up authority figures we grew up with. They can be tons of fun, rambunctious, and much, much cooler than you; take it from Jack Black who played Dewey Finn in head-banging movie School of Rock. 


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The movie mostly remembered for its guitar-shredding musical numbers has underlying lessons: the importance of giving (and making the most of) second chances, and never losing sight of what makes you happiest in life, no matter how old you get. 




Take the Lead (2006),

Antonio Banderas, Rob Brown



The narrative of the underdog triumphing will never get old. As proven by Antonio Banderas who takes on the character of Pierre Dulaine, everyone and anyone deserves the chance to prove themselves capable regardless of the expectations others have for you. 


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The story is as follows: Antonio is hired to head after-class dance training to a group of problematic students in an underprivileged neighborhood. He's rejected time and time again and often ridiculed by his charges, but his persistence in getting them to appreciate the values behind dance—discipline, passion, and self-awareness—results in a heart-tugging climax we won't spoil here. 

Extra points go to this movie for being based on true events. 




Goodwill Hunting (1997),

Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Stellan Skarsgard



The star-studded movie that made Ben Affleck and Matt Damon household names is one worth watching over and over again, and we'll guarantee that every run will be just as emotional as the first. Its highly original plot is absorbing and thought-provoking; rather than paint the familiar picture of a teacher helping a student realize his potential, Goodwill Hunting rolls out the tale of a student who knows his capabilities, but refuses to own up to them.


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Here, the teacher plays the all-too-important role of being a coach, guardian, and disciplinarian rolled into one, rather than just a school figure in charge of grading papers and imparting textbook lessons. The privilege of having life-changing mentors is highlighted, not just in the college professor character of Stellan Skarsgard, but also in Robin Williams who plays a determined therapist.