Friday Five: Teacher Movies to Watch or re-Watch this Summer

This week I thought I would review a few older movies about teaching/teachers for your summer viewing pleasure.

1. School of Rock.  Jack Black, Joan Cusack, and Sarah Silverman all star in this 2003 gem of a movie.  Veteran teachers may be aghast at Jack Black’s lack of structure in the classroom, but of course, the kids “save” him from himself as he learns compassion and a little self-control.  This movie contains probably one of my favorite movie exchanges (with apologies to gym teachers): “Those that can’t do, teach, and those that can’t teach… teach gym.”

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2. Mean Girls. This 2004 movie is still popular with our students, but for me, Tina Fey’s portrayal of an exhausted teacher who also works 2 other jobs and coaches the mathletes is probably one of my favorite teacher roles. One of my favorite lines from Tina Fey’s character Ms. Norbury is empowering:  “I know having a boyfriend might seem like the only thing important to you right now, but you don’t have to dumb yourself down in order for a guy to like you.”

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3. Half Nelson. I could write an entire book about all the complexities of this 2006 film about a young teacher, played by Ryan Gosling, who teaches in the inner-city and needs the help of one of his eighth-grade students to manage his drug addiction.  This film subverts a lot of our assumptions about race and gender and teacher stereotypes.  Sure, Gosling’s character is a history teacher who engages his students and also coaches basketball, but he comes from a more messed up family than many of his students, and he can barely take care of himself, never mind try to “save” any of his students with his misguided attempts to do the right thing. A serious film, but worth delving into.

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4. Chalk. This 2006 mock-umentary produced by Morgan Spurlock of Supersize Me fame is campy but compelling. The film follows 4 new teachers at a Texas high school.  For any veteran teacher, some of these caricatures ring all too true. The absurdity of the situations and the realities of the profession will endear these characters to you.

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5. Tenure. Luke Wilson teaches at a Pennsylvania college, but still has no publications and he’s up for review for tenure soon…so he’s trying to publish (or perish). There’s competition from a new colleague and there’s also issues with his father, who is in an assisted living facility.  As a high school teacher, I found the last five minutes particularly powerful.

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Posted by Kate, VP Secondary.

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Friday Five: Teacher Movies to Watch or re-Watch this Summer

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