Last night we were surfing Netflix looking for something to watch when we came across the movie Mona Lisa Smile, which features a young(er) Julia Roberts trying convince her 1950s, female college students that there is more to life than marriage. The movie was not only entertaining, but it also reminded me why I went in to teaching to begin with – to make a difference. So, in case you are needing a little reminder about how awesome you, as a teacher, actually are (or just need a good movie to go with your popcorn), here are some suggestions.
I recently re-watched Dead Poets Society with the always enthusiastic Robin Williams. I have mixed feelings about Robin Williams ever since I saw him on a talk show making jokes about Mother Teresa the day after her death, but this is one of his better movies. The themes are similar to Mona Lisa Smile in that he is trying to shake things up in a rather conservative environment. A good one to watch again and to share with your older children.
My daughter takes sign language for her language requirement, and a few weeks ago her teacher showed the class Mr. Holland’s Opus, which she loved. Of course, they were focusing on the challenges the main character faces in raising a deaf child, but the movie is also hugely inspirational from a teacher point of view. If you are feeling like nothing you do is making a difference, throw this one in your DVD player.
Stand and Deliver is on my list to see again. I remember being very impressed with it back in the late 1990s, when it came out. What is amazing is that it is based on a true story about a math teacher in East LA who devotes himself to a class of extremely at-risk high school students and, despite many obstacles, actually succeeds in getting them to pass the Advanced Placement calculus test, which means a real shot in life for his students, instead gangs and violence.
Hilary Swank does a terrific job playing high school teacher Erin Guwell in Freedom Writers. Like Stand and Deliver, this movie is also based on a true story and also features a teacher working with at-risk high school students in LA. Rather than math, she teaches English and must overcome the racism that is the dominant force in her class. As an added bonus for Grey’s Anatomy fans, Patrick Dempsey (Dr. McDreamy) also has a starring role.
I must admit that I am simply charmed by Anne Of Green Gables – The Sequel every time I watch it (which must be half a dozen times by now). Of course, you must first watch the original Anne of Green Gables, which is also fabulous. Actress Megan Follows is delightful playing a young teacher at an uppity school for girls. I never tire of watching her win the hearts of even the grumpiest adversaries. This is also a wonderful family film.
In all honesty, I don’t think I would call School of Rock with Jack Black exactly inspirational, but it was fun. Good for a Saturday night with your teens.
Have you seen any of these? What did you think? Got a favorite to add? Please comment.