My Favourite Teaching Movie

What was the movie you watched and what scene do you remember most vividly?

The movie I watched was Lean on Me 1989 starring Morgan Freemon. This movie was based on a true story of New Jersey high school principal Joe Clark. The inner city Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ is considered the worst school in New Jersey. The state is threatening to take control of Eastside away from the local school board.  Clark is asked to reform this school and he starts with expelling and chaining out the delinquent kids and drug dealers. Under tremendous controversy, Clark chained the doors of the school to keep these troublemakers out and the students that wanted to learn safe.

The most inspiring scene for me was Mr. Joe Clark’s speech to East High School just before they were taking the state test for basic skills. Here is the Youtube video of this one scene:

What emotion did you experience as you watched that scene?

I felt hope, excitement and nervousness for the students of East Side High. I was also very proud of Mr. Joe Clark and how he was attempting to create a much more positive learning environment at the school.

What was the character’s main struggle or dilemma?

I think Mr. Joe Clarks main struggle was to create a positive learning environment for the students of East Side High. He struggled to motivate the students to take responsibility of their learning. In one speech he tells his students “If you don’t succeed in life, don’t blame your backgrounds. Don’t blame the Establishment. Blame YOURSELVES.” He knew that it was his job to motivate!

It was very apparent throughout the movie that Mr Clark believed as Norvig does that the classroom is not about information but motivation and determination.

Where do you see this movie going on in your professional life?

I am not sure I see this movie going on in my professional life. However, as teachers we always need to find ways to motivate students. Mr. Clark went to extraordinary means to motivate the students at Eastside High.

As Richard Stiggins states “The Learner is in charge of the Learning”.

Stiggins, Richard (n.d) Assessment For Learning (n.d.) Retrieved from:

TEDGlobal (June 2012). Peter Norvig: The 100,000-student classroom. Retrieved From: