The job I am aiming to have when I finally finish my degree and hopefully make it through a PGCE is to teach. Other than being a mother it is my vocation and having had the best teachers ever at school and now at university, I feel so excited and I can’t wait to be a teacher and this post is just a short list of all the fictional teachers (both official and mentor-like) that I find so inspiring alongside the real ones.
- Will Schuester (Glee): I have only just begun watching Glee (just on 1×13!) but from the number of times I have seen him cry at his students’ achievements and moving rites of passage. He deals with his students’ personal lives and his own the way I hope to as a teacher in the future…with compassion and good humour. All aspiring teachers should I think watch Glee and take not from Mr. Schue (not Sue!) 😉 Plus, I would just like to say he has the voice of an angel and I’ve been sat on my bed all day with my autoharp out belting “Leaving on a Jet Plane” which he sings in the Pilot of the show. Inspiration or what?
- Blu Rain (Precious): This alternative teacher used the intricate and complex personal lives of her pupils to help them. Her sexuality is the one thing that made my head turn. It was a complete twist and made me respect where she came from and where she had the potential to take her charges.
- Rupert Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): This socially uncomfortable librarian and fatherly figure to the Scoobies of Sunnydale is my hero. Not only is he a booksmart and sexy older man, but Giles is also a dependable and focused man on the students who are constantly in danger from the supernatural. His unforgettable moment was when he sacrificed his place on the Watchers’ Council because they were forcing unjust regulations on the Slayer…great move, Giles!
- Charles Xavier (X-Men): Now in this example we are exposed to a man who spans two worlds: the human and the mutant, peace and war. Xavier is a leader of adults and of children and commands respect from all, even his enemies. All teachers have others in the staff room who dislike them for this and that, but this pettiness and staff room bickering is to be expected. I am not a likeable person, so I will probably have many coworkers who find me odd and a bit ersatz so the teacher I aim to be will rise above this and while she might know that she is not the most popular in the staff room she knows that she has the respect of her peers and pupils both.
- Gordon Bombay (The Mighty Ducks): Over the course of a trilogy, this ice hockey coach proved the subject/sport he taught was more than just that. Bombay taught his kids that ice hockey could impart valuable life skills and although the viewers only got a glimpse of the player’s childhood, you could tell that in their adulthood Charlie, Goldberg and Banks would tell their children about what Bombay taught them.
- Aristo (The Roman Mysteries): This tutor of the four adventurous children living in 1st century AD Rome is a great model for a teacher. Of course, he does end up marrying one of them and he cohabitates with two of them, but hey, when in Rome… But his devotion to his students’ education and lives (in tricky political situations) is remarkable – I don’t think I would follow my students all the way round the known world on their antics!
- Severus Snape (Harry Potter): Snape is portrayed as a crap teacher throughout most of the series but his underhand double-agentry to save the Hogwarts pupils and ultimate personal sacrifice is the tell of a truly great teacher. The fact that he was a housemaster only makes him all the more respectable in my book. To have responsibility of so many kids is the ultimate reward for a great teacher!
- Maester Luwin (A Song of Ice and Fire): Maester Luwin is a minor character at best in this long saga but his stalwart presence for the recently crippled Bran and the emotionally traumatised Rickon combined with his pedagogic presence not only with the young Starks but also with Catelyn and Eddard prove that not only children learn from their teachers. If only all parents could learn from their children’s teachers, the world would be a simpler and less traumatic place.
- Chiron/Mr. Brunner (Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief): This particular example is a teacher who promotes and rewards his demigod campers not only for their obedience to his knowledge and experience but also how they take their own initiative and strike out without his guidance (and sometimes approval). Surely this is the mark of the greatest of educators: the firm belief that once your work is done and you’ve given all you need to give, your students have all the skills and know-how necessary to stride out on their own in the world and leave their mark, which you helped create.
- Miss Stacey (Anne of Green Gables): Miss Stacey is similar to Chiron in that she takes a special interest in her pupils’ personal pursuits, however, when Anne reads “Ben Hur” during geometry, she is decisive in her punishment whilst taking care to safeguard her enigmatic pupil’s love of reading. Miss Stacey is also the perfect example of a teacher who continues to take an interest in their pupils once they’ve flown the classroom so to speak. She lines up job opportunities and further education placements for the students who can aim that high. She is the best example I could find of a teacher who realises that education never stops and once you’re someone’s teacher, you’ll always be their teacher.
- Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre): Much like the previous entry, Jane is a female teacher from a period setting and both dealing with orphaned girls who are quite the trying pupils. Jane’s journey – I suspect – will end up much like my own. She had a tough time at her own school but broke out of the depressing system by turning to teaching herself and through that vocation which she excelled at she found her future husband, ward, household and progeny. Her story just goes to show that teaching leads to miracles…even for those of us who are plain and ordinary.
- Derrial Book (Firefly): There isn’t another teacher associated with a faith or religion here, but Shepherd Book uses his faith and chirpy maxims to make the crew of Serenity better and healthier people. My faith is such an integral part of my existence and I know it is usually a bad thing to impart on that kind of level to students, however, even if faith isn’t mentioned, the lessons that can be learned from it are what matter.
- Master Yoda (Star Wars): First off – who doesn’t love a bit of Yoda? No one methinks! This little green Jedi master is yet another instance where wisdom trumps size. He uses everything available to him to protect the greater good. He doesn’t look at the individual picture, he looks for the individual as it is in the whole collage. This is an important lesson for any pastoral care work with students. For, as much as any student might have a problem (like I did at school) there is always a bigger picture and only by sorting out the big picture can the individual be saved. To end with a quote from Master Yoda: “Always pass on what you have learned.”
- Gaius (Merlin): Everyone loves that one sarcastic and slightly derogatory teacher that always has your best interests at heart but chooses not to wear said interests on their sleeve. Gaius is the perfect example of the protective teacher whom I aspire to be. He shields Merlin from those who mean him (and his kind) harm and manages to do so without turning him into a pansy or a wallflower. I always see on TV and thew news the cases of kids who take their own lives because no one stood up for them and had a few teachers not bothered to care for me and more importantly show it, I would not be writing this now, so I will be that much of a lioness with my students.
- Tom Clarkson (Waterloo Road): This character has been on this show for so long and was one of the main reasons I stuck with it. He appealed to me because he became a parental figure for so many of his pupils, which is how I see so many of my old teachers who got me through the tough times and helped me out. There is also the circumstances of his death to take into consideration: he fell off a roof trying to save a student of his and whilst I do not advocate the general population of teachers endangering their lives, it shows a level of commitment to those for whom he cared and who depended on him which moves me to the point of tears.
- Gandalf the Grey (The Lord of the Rings): Gandalf is one of the more obscure and vague members of this list of teachers, yet the technicolour wizard succeeds in making smalltown hobbits into big Middle Earth adventurers and conquerors. I talk about small teachers but it is this ‘teacher’s’ treatment of his small charges that singles him out on this list. Perhaps the most difficult jobs a teacher can face is getting the small and unconfident kids to emerge from their shells and the fact that Gandalf does this with panache is laudable.
- Miranda Bailey (Grey’s Anatomy): Miranda is a short and snappy but sweet mentor to her interns and residents. It is the fact that she is a short and stumpy surgeon but is feared and respected by all around her, for I will never be a tall person, so in that respect, she is my hero and the proof that even those of us who are vertically challenged can pack quite the punch.
- Brom (The Inheritance Cycle): Brom manages through the first books to conceal the fact that he is the protagonist’s father while being his mentor in the arts of dragon-ing (?) and fighting with both magic and blade. The way he manages to get Eragon to succeed and to be the person he was destined to be while keeping his relationship concealed is admirable. As someone who fully intends to assume a professional alias but have a child and that kind of double (some might say schizophrenic) life, that kind of inspiration is quintessential.
- Alaric Saltzman (The Vampire Diaries): I love me some Alaric. He is not only a gorgeous vampire-hunting history teacher, he manages to be the one true friend a diabolical and constantly villainous vampire (Damon) finds in Mystic Falls. I think when there is so much good to be found in someone, it will always be a teacher – regardless of whether it is their pupils who require it – who discovers that diamond in the rough and help assimilate them back into friend groups and families.
- Craig Pelton (Community): Despite Craig not really being a teacher per se, but the Dean of Greendale Community College, he should be on this list. Part of my brilliant experience of Chigwell School was the incredible administrative staff and pastoral staff’s role and thus, the Dean who throws himself arm, leg and stupid costume into running his failing school but respecting and valuing the individuality of his students is the perfect conclusion to this list!