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7 Teacher Movies to Watch Over Summer Break

Teacher Movies

Teachers, you deserve summer break.

After working long hours during the school year, you can take advantage of summer to relax, unwind, and recharge before the next school year begins.

It’s a perfect time to re-watch classic movies that you haven’t seen in years. Here’s a list of seven movies you can watch with your friends this summer that feature strong and influential teachers, just like yourselves.

Dead Poets Society

The late Robin Williams stars as John Keating, an English teacher who returns to his New England all-male prep school alma mater, Welton Academy. Keating bucks the trend of his stodgy colleagues and prefers his students to think critically, and not just be book smart. He requests his students stand on their desks, encouraging them to see the world from a different vantage point. He says to them, “Carpe Diem” (seize the day) and “make your life extraordinary.” Keating is later forced out of school and blamed for a student’s suicide, but as he collects his belongings, former students show their support and demonstrate how he has impacted their lives.

While most teachers don’t have classic movie endings like “Dead Poets Society” at the end of the year, you’re making a difference in lives just the same.

Freedom Writers

Based on a young English teacher working with at-risk students in 1990s Los Angeles, “Freedom Writers” highlights a teacher’s dedication to helping students overcome their differences and fulfill their potential. Erin Gruwell, portrayed by Hillary Swank, teaches her students about the Holocaust and other international genocides and relates it to their lives as gang violence tears the community apart. Gruwell encourages students to keep diaries of their past, present and future hopes and dreams, and calls the students Freedom Writers, an homage to the Civil Rights icon-Freedom Riders in the past.

Kindergarten Cop

This is a fun movie for elementary school teachers. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a police detective who comically goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher to catch a villain, who is a kindergartener’s father. In a light-hearted way, the movie showcases the carefulness it takes to teach youngsters, and how Schwarzenegger’s character, though initially not happy with the teaching role, grows to love it and his students. Of note, as it is a Schwarzenegger movie, there is some violence, but the warm, loving message of the movie outweighs few scenes with Schwarzenegger chasing a villain.

Good Will Hunting

This Robin Williams classic also stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Williams plays Sean McGuire, a community college professor who challenges Will Hunting – a brilliant mathematician who works as a janitor – to confront his inner demons. Both McGuire and Hunting open up about their past, and realize that they need to focus on the future and leave the past behind. McGuire is able to harness Hunting’s intelligence while healing the prior wounds that stall Hunting’s success.


Based on the book by the late British author Roald Dahl, Matilda is a brilliant young girl who is routinely mocked and mistreated by her parents, who are running an illegal business scheme. When Matilda is eventually allowed to go to school, she meets the lovely Miss Jennifer Honey, who takes Matilda under her wing and nurtures her learning. While the movie follows a plot line with Matilda triumphing over the cruel principal Mrs. Trunchbull and her parents, the movie also shows how a teacher’s dedication can help bring success to students.

Harry Potter

Based on the famous books by J.K. Rowling, the movies follow the trials and tribulations of Harry and his friends as they escape the hands of Lord Voldemort each year. Harry grows closer to the all-powerful wizard and headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, who provides wisdom to Harry, helping him learn how to control his magical power and helping him understand his place as the boy who lived.

Mr. Holland’s Opus

A brilliant composer and musician, Mr. Holland, portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss, takes a teaching job to spend more time with his wife and to have more time to compose a classical masterpiece. Over the years, Holland realizes he doesn’t have time to compose his masterpiece and his home-life is strained when he and his wife find out their son is deaf. However, Holland inspires his students every year in music and on his last day of teaching, in a tear-jerking moment, dozens of his former students – including the state governor – return to school to play his orchestral piece, “An American Symphony,” directed by Mr. Holland.


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Enjoy your Break

After a stressful school year, you deserve time to unwind and relax.

Consider watching any and all of the above seven movies, and if you’re interested in living a less stressful life, consider Advancement Courses’ fully online course called Achieving a Work-Life balance in Teaching. Work-life balance means feeling engaged, effective, and satisfied in each aspect of life. With this course, you’ll develop a set of practical, customizable strategies to help you work smarter, not harder.

In addition, enroll today in our course, Applying the Habits of Mind in the Classroom and Beyond. You’ll learn about personal mindset and the role that mindset plays in developing your beliefs about how you learn and how your students learn. 

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Applying the Habits of Mind in the Classroom and Beyond

In this course, you will explore personal mindset and the role that mindset plays in developing your beliefs about how you learn as well as how your students learn.