10 Legendary Movie Teachers We Wish We Had

Written by: Danelle Go

There is nothing more powerful than meeting a life-changing teacher. We tend to forget just how tiring it can be to introduce new lessons to students (who aren’t always the most open-minded people), and how much time teachers put into their lesson plans.

Admittedly, not all teachers teach well, but that doesn’t discount the effort they put into their craft. Every now and then, though, in our lives as students, we come across teachers who teach almost as if they’ve been doing it all their lives. They have the power to transform history into reality, to read the pages on a book and paint them like a masterpiece. Through their lectures, lesson plans, and even their tests, we, as students, gain not just knowledge, but a holistic perspective on life, all thanks to these life-changing professionals.

Truly, there’s no doubt that we’ve come across at least one awe-inspiring teacher in our lifetimes, whether it be in your own classrooms, or even in the movies or on TV. But in case you need a good reminder that teachers like this are around (especially with the new school year just around the corner), here are some of our favourite teachers from movies spanning decades, but whose lessons remain timeless and meaningful.

10 Legendary Movie Teachers We Wish We Had

10. Ms. Geist (Twink Caplan) and Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) from Clueless (1995)

Though these two teachers aren’t exactly given the spotlight in Clueless, those who pay close attention will notice that they are actually quite admirable (and adorable!). First you have Ms. Geist, the nerdy, quirky teacher that does her best to convince her students to make a difference, no matter how many times they neglect her. Then you have Mr. Hall, the debate teacher that never judges his students outright, no matter how odd (or…unintelligent) his students may seem. Then when Cher pairs them together, they actually become quite the cute couple!

I mean, how can you not love this duo?

9. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) from the X-Men movies

Throughout the first generation of X-Men movies (and even in the prequels with James McAvoy), Professor Xavier always showed genuine care towards his students. Despite how difficult it may have been to manage all the different mutants in the school, he continued to work to protect them from the dangers posed by humans. In addition to this protective, father-figure role he posed, he also taught the students with grace and wisdom, making him a great teacher, not just to the mutants, but also to us viewers.

8. Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) from Bad Teacher (2011)

Admittedly, she probably isn’t the first teacher that comes to mind when you think “inspirational.” But when you watch the rest of Bad Teacher unfold, you get to see how Ms. Halsey’s character transitions from extremely selfish to actually quite selfless. This journey is something that everyone can relate to, whether or not you’re a teacher. This is why Ms. Halsey is on our list of inspiring teachers, because although her antics may not be something to emulate, her character evolution is something that we must always be open to.

7. Ms. Honey (Embeth Davidtz) from Matilda (1996)

Probably one of the sweetest and kindest teachers one can encounter is someone like Ms. Honey. Her name alone speaks volumes as to just how kind and caring she is as a teacher and as a person. In the movie Matilda, she constantly stuck up for Matilda and the rest of her students from the antagonist, Ms. Trunchbull, and she even adopted Matilda by the end of the movie! How much sweeter can she get?

6. Professor Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith) from the Harry Potter movies

When you think of the legendary professors of Hogwarts, the firsts that may come to mind will probably Albus Dumbledore or Severus Snape. But when you observe the quiet integrity upheld by Prof. McGonagall, there’s nothing quite tops it. From her dedication to the art of teaching, to standing up for her beliefs, Prof. McGonagall’s tough and determined personality is something we should aspire to emulate.

5. Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita) from The Karate Kid (1984)
or Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) from The Karate Kid (2010)

Who knew that learning how to wax a floor or hang a jacket could come in handy in a karate match? These two legends knew. They are the perfect examples of how teachers can use unexpected and unorthodox methods of teachings to instil the most important lessons into students. So the next time you think your teacher has a funky way of teaching, think again, because he/she may just be turning you into some sort of champion.

4. Master Shi Fu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) from Kung Fu Panda (2011)

Master Shi Fu may be the only animated teacher on this list (and he may be the smallest), but his impact is nothing but great. Despite how tough he was on the Furious Five (and Po, the Dragon Warrior), he made sure that all his students were equipped with the skills necessary to overcome every obstacle. In addition to his overall wisdom and timeless fighting skills, he also used different methods, just like Mr. Miyagi and Mr. Han. I mean, who else would’ve thought to use cookies and noodles to (successfully) train the Dragon Warrior?

3. Ms. Norbury (Tina Fey) from Mean Girls (2004)

Ms. Norbury, played by the iconic Tina Fey, was definitely NOT a drug pusher, but she was indeed a great teacher. She was tough, she was fun(ny), and most of all, she always thought about what was best for her students, even if it put her at risk sometimes. She also showed instances of being sympathetic towards her students, and she wasn’t afraid to get to know them on a deeper level because at her core, she was just as nerdy as the mathletes! And that’s what we love about her!

2. Dewey Finn (Jack Black) from School of Rock (2003)

He may not have started out as an actual teacher, but he taught his students some important lessons nonetheless, especially when it comes to appreciating music and the arts. In the movie (which is a classic, btw!), Dewey Finn poses as his friend and actual substitute, Mr. Schneebly, and what starts out as an undercover way of earning money turns into him forming an incredible band out of his students. School of Rock is just one of those feel good movies that features yet another legendary and awe-inspiring teacher whose love for music becomes the students’ love for music, just the way it should be.

1. Mr. Keating (Robin Williams) from Dead Poets’ Society (1989)

“Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” This iconic quote encapsulates just the kind of teacher that Mr. Keating was in the film Dead Poets Society. His unique outlook on life allowed him to impart great wisdom to the students at Welton Academy. Though his unorthodox teaching methods got him in trouble a lot throughout the movie, it provided the student with a newfound curiosity and approach at life’s greatest problems. And in the end, isn’t that what teaching is all about? Providing students with new information that allows them to push barriers and lead meaningful lives? Because in the end, life is too short, so one must gather ‘ye rosebuds while ‘ye may in order to live extraordinary lives.

Who’s your favourite movie teacher?


Related Stories