13 Most Inspiring Fictional TeachersGina Vaynshteyn

Before I became a TA, I thought teaching was fairly easy to pull off. You show up to school, you effortlessly teach a subject you have learned and taught your entire life, you play God when it comes to grading, and then you get to go home and watch The Big Bang Theory.

HAHA. In reality, you most likely have to go home and grade papers and remember to DVR Big Bang Theory so that you can watch it two weekends later when you have the time. I have so much respect for almost every single teacher I have had in my life. I’m talking about teachers who have spent their entire lives motivating and showing students their potential, teachers who love their subject so much it radiates, and teachers who have made such a profound difference in our lives. We wouldn’t be the same without them. Teaching is also one of the most under-appreciated jobs, so we decided HelloGiggles should celebrate Teacher’s Day by listing some of our favorite, most inspirational and memorable teachers we have seen or read about. Here are mine:

1. Jaime A. Escalante in Stand and Deliver

Stand and Deliver is a high school staple. You did not truly get your American education if you did not watch Stand and Deliver at least three times. In every grade level. I’m not sure whether it encouraged us to try harder in Alegebra II, or rejoice because we didn’t have to learn anything new that day, but it was always uplifting nevertheless. Mr. Escalante (played by Edward James Olmos), a phenomenal math teacher, is able to uncover the genuine potential of his classroom, a group of underprivileged kids with rough edges. In under a year, he’s able to take them from basic math to calculus. Based on a true story, Jaime Escalante basically proves that everyone can be good at math if they try (and study for 365 days straight).


2. Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter 

Harry Potter would not be the same Harry Potter were it not for Dumbledore (played by Richard Harris and Michael Gambon in the movies), the wise and powerful, great wizard. Personally, my favorite Dumbledore moment was when he bit into a jellybean and sputtered, “Alas! Earwax!”


3. John Keating in Dead Poets Society

On the first day of every semester, I am totally tempted to passionately instruct my class to rip up their books, but I don’t because a) I might get fired, b) there is no way the students would rip up their already overly priced textbooks, and c) all of their reading is online anyway. But I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be as poetic and cool as Robin Williams is in Dead Poets Society. Also, if you’re ever confused about poetry, just remember this quote: “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, these are what we stay alive for.”


4. Dewey Finn in School of Rock

Dewey Finn (Jack Black) somehow finagles his way into teaching a 4th grade class at a fancy private school. Finn may not be the most conventional “teacher,” but he certainly trains his class of ten year-olds to become devoted musicians and grow confident with their musical abilities.


5. Ms. Frizzle in The Magic School Bus 

Ms. Frizzle definitely made science class more hands-on and had a very experimental curriculum (is that what Montessori is like?). I desperately wished field trips entailed shrinking to the size of red blood cells to explore the human body, but we mostly just memorized the Table of Elements and watched documentaries. Still cool, but not nearly as invasive.


6. Mr. Feeny in Boy Meets World

Mr. FeenyFe-fe-fe-heeeeen-naaaayyyy – is the ultimate moral compass and smart ass teacher. Mr. Feeny (played by William Daniels) knows about life, love, success, failure, confidence, and basically how to live like a good human being in a world filled with assholes. Everyone needs a Feeny in their lives.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=639884131 Philippa Jones

    Lily (Allyson Hanigan) in How I Met Your Mother
    Giles (okay so he was a school librarian not a teacher per say) in Buffy

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1324442446 Aamina Malik

    Lupin from Harry Potter! Also Will Shuester from Glee.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=591191302 Julia-Anne Smith

    ummmm…. Jaime Escalante was a real teacher. Great list, but I don’t know why he’s on this list.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1039056755 Dakota Valdez

    Mr. Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer! He should most definitely be on this list!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502721609 Tara Ann LeGates

    Great, except Jaime Escalante is a real person, and Stand and Deliver was based on his experiences teaching in East LA

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=572843594 Sarwat Habib

    And of course Yoda !

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=572843594 Sarwat Habib

    Michelle pfeiffer in dangerous minds??Hillary Swank in freedom writers

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506732178 Naomi Ohayon

    Erin Gruwell – Freedom Writers The best part of it is, that she is a real person, who helped hundreds of teenagers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506732178 Naomi Ohayon

    As a fan of T.V. and many different shows. One of my favourite inspiring fictional teachers in my personal opinion is Mr. Shue from Glee. He gave students a safe place to be themselves, he supported them, encouraged them and didn’t judge them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1299349710 Audrey Holmes

    Richard Dreyfuss as Mr Holland in “Mr. Holland’s Opus”
    Matthew Perry as Ron Clark in “The Ron Clark Story”
    Viola Davis playing Nona Alberts in “Won’t Back Down”
    Hillary Swank as Erin Gruwell in “Freedom Writers”
    I am a teacher and no one should be issued a teaching degree without watching and fully understanding these films and the reality that these films portray.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000952168350 Petr Springinsfeld

    What about Henry Jones Jr. ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1428236785 Michelle Lowe

    You left out the most important fictional teacher of all times. Sidney Poitier portraying Mr. Mark Thackery in To Sir, With Love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005084314929 Christabel Fluffiecorn

    Will Schuester from Glee.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=586489148 Jessica Nicotra

    What about Ms Honey in Matilda? :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1299349710 Audrey Holmes

      She is #8

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1169125124 Carlos Farias

    How about professor Bill from “Perks of being a wallflower”, he was an inspiration, isn’t he?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=644872320 Tim Chandler

    No Will Shuester from Glee?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=775054914 Adina Judovin

    I knew Feeney would be on this list; it’d be awful if he wasn’t.

    How about Giles? Does he count as a teacher? And Coach Taylor? Not traditional teachers, but faculty nonetheless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1130042652 Checho Bouyer

    you really need to watch Coach Carter

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002922391097 Thais Abreu

    I love Julia Roberts as Katherine Watson in Mona Lisa Smile. That movie is so underrated, but still one of my favourites!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=775054914 Adina Judovin

      That’s a great one!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1039701332 Bruce Alan Thomas

    Mr. Holland (Mr. Holland’s Opus). I was surprised not to see this one, thought for sure he’d make the cut.

    Also I agree with other posters about Ms. Edmunds (Bridge to Terabithia) and Ms. Watson (Mona Lisa Smile).

    Additionally Mrs. Gruwell (Freedom Writers) and Mr. Tolson (Great Debators). Many of the movies inspired by real life teachers are worth mentioning but these are just a few.

    Excellent list though as I find myself hard pressed not to agree with them.

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