Bright Classroom Ideas

The Top 50 Teacher Movies Of All Time

Everyone who watches a teacher movie can gain great inspiration. Who doesn’t love the story of the teacher who believes in their students so much as to make a difference in their lives!

Every single teacher hopes to make an impact in some way in the lives of our students. At the end of the day, isn’t this why we teach?

This is a definitive list of the top teacher movies of all time categorized by their ratings. You will find some of the teachers inspiring, some struggling, and some truly exceptional. All of them are worthy of your attention.

The plot summaries were taken from IMDb, whereas the audience scores and comments from Rotten Tomatoes. We are looking forward to hearing your feedback at the comments section below.

1. Like Stars on Earth (2007)

Like Stars on Earth

165 min | Drama, Family

An eight-year-old boy is thought to be a lazy trouble-maker, until the new art teacher has the patience and compassion to discover the real problem behind his struggles in school.

Directors: Aamir Khan, Amole Gupte | Stars: Darsheel Safary, Aamir Khan

“An inspirational story that is as emotive as it is entertaining.”

Audience Score: 96%

2. The Browning Version (1951)

The Browning Version

90 min | Drama

Forced to retire from an English public school, an unpopular professor must confront his failure as a teacher and husband.

Director: Anthony Asquith | Stars: Michael Redgrave, Jean Kent, Nigel Patrick

“Dramatically powerful, exceptionally well-acted and not without its tearful moments of reexamination and redemption…The Browning Version is a…masterwork of a film.”

Audience Score: 95%

3. Remember the Titans (2000)

Remember the Titans

113 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

The true story of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit.

Director: Boaz Yakin | Stars: Denzel Washington, Will Patton

“The emphasis on the players’ developing mutual trust, is absorbing to watch and cleanly directed.”

Audience Score: 93%

4. Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poets Society

128 min | Comedy, Drama

English teacher John Keating inspires his students to look at poetry with a different perspective of authentic knowledge and feelings.

Director: Peter Weir | Stars: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke

“Though sentimental and contrived, this valentine to charismatic, dedicated teachers is extremely well acted and it does make you feel good about loving literature and poetry.”

Audience Score: 92%

5. The Chorus (2004)

The Chorus

97 min | Drama, Music

The new teacher at a severely administered boys’ boarding school works to positively affect the students’ lives through music.

Director: Christophe Barratier | Stars: Gérard Jugnot, François Berléand

“So infused with nostalgia, optimism and authenticity, it will prove irresistible to the older art-house demographic.”

Audience Score: 92%

6. To Be and to Have (2002)

To Be and to Have

104 min | Documentary, Family

A documentary portrait of a one-room school in rural France, where the students (ranging in age from 4 to 11) are educated by a single dedicated teacher.

Director: Nicolas Philibert | Stars: Georges Lopez

“A movie every teacher should see, and every parent, too.”

Audience Score: 92%

7. Chak de! India (2007)

Chak de! India

153 min | Drama, Family, Sport

Kabir Khan is the coach of the Indian Women’s National Hockey Team and his dream is to make his all girls team emerge victorious against all odds.

Director: Shimit Amin | Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Vidya Malvade

“The plot contains no surprises, but the matches are deftly shot and the film is a buoyant expression of girl power.”

Audience Score: 92%

8. Not One Less (1999)

Not One Less

106 min | Drama

In a remote mountain village, the teacher must leave for a month, and the mayor can find only a 13-year old girl, Wei Minzhi, to substitute. The teacher leaves one stick of chalk for each day and promises her an extra 10 yuan if there’s not one less student when he returns. Within days, poverty forces the class troublemaker, Zhang Huike, to leave for the city to work. Minzhi, possessed of a stubborn streak, determines to bring him back. She enlists the 26 remaining pupils in earning money for her trip. She hitches to Jiangjiakou City and begins her search.

Director: Yimou Zhang | Stars: Minzhi Wei, Huike Zhang

“This is the kind of intelligent, probing picture where you get the chance to absorb every detail of the girl’s experience, and the director’s reserved approach exerts a strong, hypnotic hold.”

Audience Score: 90%

9. Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

114 min | Drama, Romance

An aged teacher and former headmaster of a boarding school recalls his career and his personal life over the decades.

Directors: Sam Wood, Sidney Franklin | Stars: Robert Donat, Greer Garson, Terry Kilburn

“The basic heart behind “Goodbye Mr. Chips” really resonates. We need teachers who care about their students and care about the institution of learning.”

Audience Score: 88%

10. Song for a Raggy Boy (2003)

Song for a Raggy Boy

94 min | Drama, History

The true story of a single teacher’s courage to stand up against an untouchable prefect’s sadistic disciplinary regime and other abuse in a Catholic Reformatory and Industrial School in 1939 Ireland.

Director: Aisling Walsh | Stars: Aidan Quinn, Iain Glen

“Based on a true story this is not for the faint of heart. Strong, powerful and emotional tale which will undoubtedly make you wince and squirm in your armchair.”

Audience Score: 88%

11. To Sir, with Love (1967)

To Sir, with Love

105 min | Drama

An idealistic engineer-trainee and his experiences in teaching a group of rambunctious white high school students from the slums of London’s East End.

Director: James Clavell | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Judy Geeson, Christian Roberts, Suzy Kendall

“It beat Dead Poets Society to the punch by over two decades.”

Audience Score: 88%

12. The Miracle Worker (1962)

The Miracle Worker

106 min | Biography, Drama

The story of Anne Sullivan’s struggle to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate.

Director: Arthur Penn | Stars: Anne Bancroft, Patty Duke

“Beautiful black-and-white cinematography, startling performances, and harrowing physicality… the cathartic final scene is nothing short of transcendent.”

Audience Score: 88%

13. McFarland USA (2015)

McFarland USA

129 min | Drama

Jim White moves his family after losing his last job as a football coach. He sees that some of the students are worth starting a cross-country team and turns seven students with no hope into one of the best cross-country teams.

Director: Niki Caro | Stars: Kevin Kostner, Maria Bello

“Tells its by-the-bootstraps story so winningly that, predictable though it may be, it’s still hard not to find it thoroughly rousing.”

Audience Score: 88%

 14. Freedom Writers (2007)

Freedom Writers

123 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves and pursue education beyond high school.

Director: Richard LaGravenese | Stars: Hilary Swank, Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey

“Worthwhile because of its honesty, because it tells a true story that’s worth telling, and because Hilary Swank and company have done it so well.”

Audience Score: 87%

15. The Great Debaters (2007)

The Great Debaters

126 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school’s first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.

Director: Denzel Washington | Stars: Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker

“An old fashioned feel-good movie, well acted and solidly crafted – the kind of which there will always be room for.”

Audience Score: 86%

16. Monsieur Lazhar (2011)

Monsieur Lazhar

94 min | Comedy, Drama

At a Montréal public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. While helping his students deal with their grief, his own recent loss is revealed.

Director: Philippe Falardeau | Stars: Mohamed Fellag, Sophie Nélisse

“A surprisingly charming, but sad, story of the sort of special mentor we’re all lucky if we meet once in a lifetime.”

Audience Score: 86%

17. The Ron Clark Story (2006)

The Ron Clark Story

90 min | Biography, Drama

A small-town teacher relocates to one of the toughest classrooms in the country.

Director: Randa Haines | Stars: Matthew Perry

“Strength, courage, and a determination to make a change.”

Audience Score: 85%

18. Lean on Me (1989)

Lean on Me

108 min | Drama

The dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school and he is determined to improve by any and all means.

Director: John G. Avildsen | Stars: Morgan Freeman

“Inspirational movie about a controversial teacher.”

Audience Score: 85%

19. Coach Carter (2005)

Coach Carter

136 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

Controversy surrounds high school basketball coach Ken Carter after he benches his entire team for breaking their academic contract with him.

Director: Thomas Carter | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson

“Samuel L. Jackson shouts, yells, bellows, and screams his way through the fact-inspired film.”

Audience Score: 85%

20. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

116 min | Drama, Romance

A headstrong young teacher in a private school in 1930s Edinburgh ignores the curriculum and influences her impressionable 12 year old charges with her over-romanticized world view.

Director: Ronald Neame | Stars: Maggie Smith

“Maggie Smith in one of those technically stunning, emotionally distant performances that the British are so damn good at.”

Audience Score: 84%

21. Half Nelson (2006)

Half Nelson

106 min | Drama

An inner-city junior high school teacher with a drug habit forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students after she discovers his secret.

Director: Ryan Fleck | Stars: Ryan Gosling

“It’s a thoughtful character study with Gosling simply tremendous as the functioning addict, who seems to use crack to anaesthetize him from his inability to form adult relationships.”

Audience Score: 83%

22. Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)

Mr. Holland’s Opus

143 min | Drama, Music

A frustrated composer finds fulfillment as a high school music teacher.

Director: Stephen Herek | Stars: Richard Dreyfuss

“A touching, uplifting and life-affirming winner that makes it hard to avoid leaving the theater teary-eyed, with a lump in your throat.”

Audience Score: 83%

23. The Teacher (2016)

The Teacher

102 min | Drama

Since the arrival of the new teacher, Maria Drazdechova, to a Bratislava suburban school in the year of 1983, life has turned upside down for students and parents. The teacher’s corrupted behavior and one of the students’ suicide attempt that could be related to that matter, makes the school Principal call the students’ parents for an urgent meeting that will suddenly put the future of all the families at stake.

Director: Jan Hrebejk | Stars: Zuzana Maurery, Zuzana Konecna

“Though flecked with dark humor, the film is a chilling reminder of what people can get away with, and what can become normal, if one consents to an oppressive system.”

Audience Score: 82%

24. The Class (2008)

The Class

128 min | Drama

Teacher and novelist François Bégaudeau plays a version of himself as he negotiates a year with his racially mixed students from a tough Parisian neighborhood.

Director: Laurent Cantet | Stars: François Bégaudeau, Agame Malembo-Emene,

“The film raises important questions about learning, authority and discipline, and is honest enough to admit that it doesn’t really have any answers.”

Audience Score: 82%

25. Precious (2009)


110 min | Drama

In New York City’s Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

Director: Lee Daniels | Stars: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique

“A film full of life and love, well-meaning and a genuine and important phenomenon that says act – don’t dwell – on your dreams.”

Audience Score: 81%

26. Beyond the Blackboard (2011)

Beyond the Blackboard

95 min | Drama

A 24-year-old first-time teacher overcomes her initial fears and prejudices and makes a difference in the lives of the homeless children she teaches in a shelter’s makeshift classroom.

Director: Jeff Bleckner | Stars: Emily VanCamp, Steve Talley

“Sweet, and inspiring Hallmark Channel movie.”

Audience Score: 81%

27. The Wave (2008)

The Wave

107 min | Drama

A high school teacher’s experiment to demonstrate to his students what life is like under a dictatorship spins horribly out of control when he forms a social unit with a life of its own.

Director: Dennis Gansel | Stars: Jürgen Vogel, Frederick Lau

“Seductive and horrifying at the same time…The film opens with a rush of energy and doesn’t let up.”

Audience Score: 80%

28. Finding Forrester (2000)

Finding Forrester

136 min | Drama

A young writing prodigy finds a mentor in a reclusive author.

Director: Gus Van Sant | Stars: Sean Connery, Rob Brown

“An intelligent, subtle, in short remarkable take on growing up, being true to yourself and fighting the odds.”

Audience Score: 79%

29. Stand and Deliver (1988)

Stand and Deliver

103 min | Biography, Drama

The story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who successfully inspired his dropout prone students to learn calculus.

Director: Ramón Menéndez | Stars: Edward James Olmos

“Powerfully inspirational, laden with tough love, and on occasion a tad hokey. It’s the “Coach Carter” of H.S. Math class.”

Audience Score: 79%

30. Election (1999)


103 min | Comedy

A high school teacher’s personal life becomes complicated as he works with students during the school elections, particularly with an obsessive overachiever determined to become student body president.

Director:  Alexander Payne | Stars: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon

“Election at first has the feel of a simple work. But don’t let that fool you; it’s a complex, deep tale.”

Audience Score: 79%

31. Conrack (1974)


106 min | Drama

A young, white teacher is assigned to an isolated island off the coast of South Carolina populated mostly by poor black families. He finds that the basically illiterate, neglected children there know so little of the world outside their island that they have virtually developed their own language (“Conrack” is their way of saying his name, Conroy) and, in fact, don’t have much interest in learning about anything outside the island. He has to find a way to get through to these kids and teach them what they need to know and also to keep on the good side of the school superintendent, who doesn’t want him there.

Director: Martin Ritt | Stars: Jon Voight

“An unusually human movie that ought to be talked about by everyone concerned with the real meaning of education, communication, and a full rich vision of life”

Audience Score: 78%

32. Blackboard Jungle (1955)

Blackboard Jungle

101 min | Crime, Drama

A new English teacher at a violent, unruly inner-city school is determined to do his job, despite resistance from both students and faculty.

Director: Richard Brooks | Stars: Glenn Ford, Anne Francis

“It gives a blood-curdling, nightmarish picture or monstrous disorder in a public school. And it leaves one wondering wildly whether such out-of-hand horrors can be.”

Audience Score: 77%

33. Pay It Forward (2000)

Pay It Forward

123 min | Drama

A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance.

Director: Mimi Leder | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Haley Joel Osment, Helen Hun

“A movie that actually promotes doing nice things for others instead of always receiving!”

Audience Score: 77%

34. Blackboards (2000)


88 min | Drama

Itinerant Kurdish teachers, carrying blackboards on their backs, look for students in the hills and villages of Iran, near the Iraqi border during the Iran-Iraq war.

Director: Samira Makhmalbaf |Stars: Said Mohamadi, Behnaz Jafari

“There’s no denying the strength of these simple images, and the bleak message of earning to sort out your real priorities in times of strife.”

Audience Score: 76%

35. The Corn Is Green (1945)

The Corn Is Green

115 min | Drama

A schoolteacher becomes the mentor of a talented young miner and seeks to get him into a university.

Director: Irving Rapper |Stars: Bette Davis, John Dall

“Irving Rapper’s screen version of Emlyn Williams semi-autobiographical play is well acted by Bette Davis as the spinster-teacher, but is too theatrical, sentimental and conventional.”

Audience Score: 75%

36. Detachment (2011)


98 min | Drama

A substitute teacher who drifts from classroom to classroom finds a connection to the students and teachers during his latest assignment.

Director: Tony Kaye | Stars: Adrien Brody, Christina Hendricks

“A gripping drama, Detachment offers a gut-wrenching look at the school system, as told by the unsung heroes–the teachers.”

Audience Score: 74%

37. Matilda (1996)


102 min | Comedy, Family

Story of a wonderful little girl, who happens to be a genius, and her wonderful teacher vs. the worst parents ever and the worst school principal imaginable.

Director: Danny DeVito | Stars: Danny DeVito, Mara Wilson, Embeth Davidtz

“Dark, beautiful adaptation of Roald Dahl story is uncompromising, entertaining and    moving.”

Audience Score: 73%

38. Music of the Heart (1999)

Music of the Heart 

124 min | Drama, Music

Story of a schoolteacher’s struggle to teach violin to inner-city Harlem kids.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Meryl Streep

“A woman at the end of her rope after she is deserted by her husband finds a path of the heart that enables her to share her gift with the world.”

Audience Score: 72%

39. The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)

The Man Who Knew Infinity

108 min | Biography

The story of the life and academic career of the pioneer Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan, and his friendship with his mentor, Professor G.H. Hardy.

Director: Matt Brown | Stars: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons

“There is something almost spiritual about this film that makes it more than just a maths biopic.”

Audience Score: 71%

40. Skirt Day (2008)

Skirt Day

87 min | Drama

Skirt Day is a fascinating psychological study, a socio-critical investigation – and Isabelle Adhani’s first film in five years.

Director: Jean-Paul Lilienfeld | Stars: Isabelle Adjani

“A stark political satire, exposing all the divisions and frictions – social, sexual, racial, cultural and religious – of a modern multi-cultural France whose fragile sense of identity remains locked in a state of turbulent adolescence.”

Audience Score: 70%

41. Phoebe in Wonderland (2008)

Phoebe in Wonderland

96 min | Drama

Confounded by her clashes with the seemingly rule-obsessed world, a troubled young girl seeks enlightenment from her unconventional drama teacher.

Director: Daniel Barnz | Stars: Elle Fanning, Patricia Clarkson, Felicity Huffman

“An interesting look at a little girl’s struggle to control her disease.”

Audience Score: 70%

42. The History Boys (2006)

The History Boys

109 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

An unruly class of gifted and charming teenage boys are taught by two eccentric and innovative teachers, as their headmaster pushes for them all to get accepted into Oxford or Cambridge.

Director: Nicholas Hytner | Stars: Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour

“The History Boys is a movie that asks questions like ‘What is education really for anyway?’ and asks them in an altogether witty, brainy way. It turns history into what it really is, the story of our lives.”

Audience Score: 70%

43. School of Life (2005)

School of Life

111 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

A new teacher squares off against his crusty competitor for a teacher of the year award.

Director: William Dear | Stars: David Paymer, Ryan Reynolds

“This movie leaves you with a ray of hope that there are some teachers that are not disillusioned.”

Audience Score: 70%

44. The Emperor’s Club (2002)

The Emperor’s Club

109 min | Drama

An idealistic prep school teacher attempts to redeem an incorrigible student.

Director: Michael Hoffman | Stars: Kevin Kline, Emile Hirsch, Joel Gretsch

“The movie may not be worthy of an Oscar, but Kline’s highly nuanced performance is   certainly worthy of our attention.”

Audience Score: 68%

45. Up the Down Staircase (1967)

Up the Down Staircase

124 min | Drama

The experiences of a young female English teacher in an inner-city New York high school.

Director: Robert Mulligan | Stars: Patrick Bedford, Sandy Dennis

“One of Hollywood’s earnest efforts about highschool education, sort of a female version of Blackboard Jungle and To Sir With Love, with Sandy Dennis in the lead.”

Audience Score: 67%

46. The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)

The Kindergarten Teacher

96 min | Drama

A kindergarten teacher in New York becomes obsessed with one of her students whom she believes is a child prodigy.

Director: Sara Colangelo | Stars: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gael García Bernal

“Exquisitely non-judgmental, this is one of those little films that restores your faith in indie cinema.”

Audience Score: 67%

47. School of Rock (2003)

School of Rock

109 min | Comedy, Music

After being kicked out of his rock band, Dewey Finn becomes a substitute teacher of an uptight elementary private school, only to try and turn them into a rock band.

Director: Richard Linklater | Stars: Jack Black, Mike White, Joan Cusack

“Jack Black is a one-man rock ‘n roll powerhouse in this infectious musical comedy.”

Audience Score: 64%

48. The Man Without a Face (1993)

The Man Without a Face

115 min | Drama 

Chuck wants to leave home but can’t make the grade for boarding school. Then he finds out the disfigured recluse living nearby is an ex-teacher.

Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Mel Gibson, Nick Stahl

“Offers a glimpse of grace as two individuals restore each other’s souls with gifts of trust and love.”

Audience Score: 64%

49. Dangerous Minds (1995)

Dangerous Minds

99 min | Biography, Drama

An ex-Marine turned teacher struggles to connect with her students in an inner city school.

Director: John N. Smith | Stars: Michelle Pfeiffer

“Inspiring portrait of an inner city teacher who discovers that making students feel good about themselves brings learning alive in the classroom.”

Audience Score: 64%

50. Chalk (2006)


85 min | Comedy

An improvisational take on the high school experience, told from the educators’ point-of-view.

Director: Mike Akel |Stars: Troy Schremmer

“The movie offers some modest, amusing and true lessons about an honorable profession.”

Audience Score: 61%

If you have any other suggestions, we would love to hear them in the comments section!

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