6 Underrated Movies Every Teacher Should Watch

Hulu home screen on a computer

Due to quarantine, we have so much time to watch movies and binge our favourite television shows. We finally had time to watch the new season or start that show that has been on our watch list for ages. Now that places are opening up again, our lives are starting to go back to normal. This means we will not be watching as many movies or tv shows anymore. A new school year is fast approaching and you’re getting super excited to be teaching English abroad – trust us we get it!

On your big to-do list before classes start has got to be a movie night! Not just a regular movie night where you cry at your favourite rom-com, we’re thinking more of an educational movie night. Before you pick your next movie check out these six underrated movies every teacher should watch! 

Lean On Me (1989) 

Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman stars as in the incredible true story of Joe Clark. Joe Clark is a teacher turned principal at East Side High School. Determined to abolish any drug abuse, gang violence, or unban despair by any means necessary. Everyone said he was crazy as the school is a constant reminder that you cannot fix something broken. Joe Clark took that challenge and vowed to change the school for the better. Yes, his methods may seem unorthodox, but Joe Clark was only ever crazy about one thing – his students. He would teach his students that their reason for attending school is to learn so they can have a fulfilling future and not blame others for their mistakes. See how one man changed a school forever – welcome to the NEW East Side high school.  

Watch the trailer here 

School of Rock (2003)

Jack Black stars as Dewey Finn, whose biggest dream is to become a world-famous rockstar. Dewey is currently unemployed and living on his best friend’s couch. After getting kicked out of his band, Dewey is determined to create a new band to compete in the battle of the bands’ competition. With no money for the competition, Dewey impersonates his roommate and accepts a job at Horace Green prep school.

 Completely underqualified and out of place, Dewey is about to rock these kids’ worlds. After discovering his students are musically gifted Dewey realizes this is the band he has been waiting for. To keep his teaching job, Dewey and his students have to practice in secrecy. Just like that, the school of rock was born! Through band practice and rock history lessons, Dewey discovers the individuality of each student. Dewey finally sees the grand prize at the end of the tunnel until everything hits a sour note. Find out how one “teacher” created a rock revolution. 

Watch the trailer here

Broadway show in NYC of School of Rock the movie

Coach Carter (2005)

Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson stars as coach Ken Carter, the new basketball coach in Richmond, CA. Coach Carter is not a teacher, nevertheless, Carter demands high performances in the classroom and the court. In Richmond, you are 80% more likely to end up in jail than go to college. Coach Carter believes in excellence and requires his players to sign a contract with specific rules in order to play. Rules such as keeping a 2.3 or higher grade point average and dress up on game days.

 Inspired by a true story of how one coach took the phrase student-athlete to the next level. Coach Carter sees the value these young players have to get out and make a name for themselves. When Carter’s teaching methods threaten their season the town takes matters into their own hands. See how one coach learned boys into educated men. 

Watch the trailer here

Basketball going out of the net representing sport movies

Precious (2009)

Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry present the story of Clarice “Precious” Young, an abused and illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child. Precious has big dreams of one day becoming rich and famous and escaping her so-called life. Her mother, Mary, abuses Precious emotionally and physically every single day. Mary does not work and spends her days smoking, watching television, and collecting welfare through fraud. She constantly reminds Precious of how worthless she is and will never amount to anything. 

Due to her pregnancy, Precious is transferred to an alternative school for her to get her GED. She finds a haven in school when her teacher Miss Blu Rain begins to see what Precious is capable of. A place where she is told she has talent and value. Precious finally begins to believe she can have a future by learning how to read and write and escape her mother once and for all. The abuse continues at home, and Precious is running out of options. All she has is the love and strength from her teacher and her baby to keep her going. Life is full of disappointments, but life is also precious. 

Watch the trailer here

Half Nelson (2006) 

Golden Globe winner Ryan Gosling stars as Dan Dunne, an inner-city junior high school teacher. He is a great role model, coach, and mentor for all his students. Inside the classroom, he is a superstar but outside, he is a burnout. Dan has a drug habit that he claims he uses to get by and can manage. He does not have a healthy relationship with his family or women, mixed with the drugs is causing him to spiral. Rehab is not an option as he claims it is not working for him. How long can he hold on before everything explodes around him?  

Thirteen-year-old Drey is one of Dan’s students and basketball players. She has her own problems with her divorced mother constantly working, an absent father, and an incarcerated brother. Drey has always been on her own. Now she finds a way to help her mother make quick cash in unorthodox situations.  After Drey catches Dan smoking crack in the girl’s locker room, her view of him quickly changes. She agrees to keep his drug use a secret, and the two form an unlikely friendship.  Through their rough lives, they discover they have a friend to help pull them out of the dark times. 

Watch the trailer here

stack of school textbooks representing movies set in school

The Karate Kid Movies (1984)

Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita star in the Oscar-nominated film that created a worldwide phenomenon. Seventeen-year-old Daniel LaRusso and his mother move from New Jersey to California. Daniel quickly discovers he does not fit into the California crowd as much as his mother said he would. No matter how many fights Daniel avoids, he cannot escape the torment of karate star Johnny Lawrence and his minions. After getting into a fight, Daniel knows he cannot win. 

Miyagi, an elderly gardener, inserts himself into the fight as he takes on a dozen teenagers and saves Daniel. The two form a mentorship as Miyagi agrees to train Daniel in the art of karate. Together they begin to train for the all-valley tournament, where he will face his tormentors in a one on one fight. Miyagi promises to teach Daniel the true art of karate, and not the violent form that Johnny at Kobra Kai uses. Miyagi’s methods may be redundant, but the movements are effective. Slowly but surely, Daniel learns the true nature of karate and is ready for any opponent. 

Watch the trailer here

Karate girl kicking the air representing karate movies



The post 6 Underrated Movies Every Teacher Should Watch appeared first on The TEFL Academy Blog.

I have been traveling and teaching ESL abroad ever since I graduated university. This life choice has taken me around the world and allowed me to experience cultures and meet people that I did not know existed.

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