Cool Teacher

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You had a cool teacher, right? "Just call me Ralph. I can't stand that 'Sir' shit." Sure you did. Talking to you on your level, like a mate rather than an authority figure, about the Inspiral Carpets or Nirvana, and pulling an acoustic guitar out of the cupboard when all that learning shit got a bit boring, yeah? It happened to us all. We laughed, we connected, we got terrible grades at the end of the year, then found out they never returned after the summer break because they'd fingered a sixth form girl.
Stuart Millard, So Excited, So Scared: The Saved by the Bell Retrospective

A teacher...who is cool. They motivate their students to learn (possibly in "fun ways" that actually are fun), laugh at the Stern Teacher and Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher behind their backs, protect their students from the Sadist Teacher and oppose the Evil Teacher and Dean Bitterman at every turn. Their consistently good results might protect them from being a Fired Teacher, but this isn't a given. A lot of these end up being The Mentor either way.

Often a Foil to the Apathetic Teacher.

Supertrope to: Psychologist Teacher and Badass Teacher


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Shizuka Nekonome in Rosario + Vampire is one of the few teachers who happens to be generally nice to everyone, enthusiatic about her job and helping her students learn, and actively encourages her students to participate in extracurricular activities. She does have a nasty habit of scratching her students whenever they point out something about her cat nature, though... even if it is for her own genuine good and protection.
  • This is the entire premise of Great Teacher Onizuka. Onizuka is so much of a supportive teacher to his student's own problems, that very shortly into the series, he already had his own female students throwing him their panties in appreciation. He's not even that kind of teacher either..... most of the time.
  • Takamichi of Mahou Sensei Negima! is often viewed as this. Negi kind of counts.
  • Monsieur Dufarge, Sarah's French teacher in Princess Sarah, is a good example, and ends up being a father figure to her. Of course, this leads to inevitable consequences, given the sort of series it is.
  • Fruits Basket (manga only) has "Mayu-Chan-Sensei" as the girl students call her. At one point she pretends to get angry, then grins and tells them to refer to her as "Great Teacher Mayuko".
  • Sumiko Kobayashi from Detective Conan tries to pass herself off as a Sadist Teacher at first, to not fail at her work, but as soon as her Jerk Ass Facade is blown, she embraces the trope thoroughly.

    Films — Animated 
  • Subverted in Disney's Big Hero 6. Professor Callaghan genuinely cares about his students, but his hatred and embitterment towards Krei after his daughter his seemingly killed because of him drove him to become Yokai, and therefore oppose his former students after they become the Big Hero 6.
  • The science teacher in Frankenweenie sort of counts, though it can be a little unclear due to the gloomy tone of the film. But he is clearly very excited about his subject, illustrates his points with theatrical story telling, gestures and chalk drawings and chides the adults of the town for being small-minded and preventing him from expanding their children's minds, even if he has an (on the surface) fairly threatening way of saying it. He also listens and gives advice to Victor when he asks him a question outside of the classroom and tells him its important to love his project. Note that most of the class is very excited about the Science Fair, and that the children don't seem very happy with their substitute when he is fired.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ms. Oishi, the beloved elementary school teacher in Japanese film Twenty-Four Eyes. She teaches her kids fun songs, takes them on hikes, and more importantly, reads them subversive literature and questions Japanese militarism.
  • Mr. Freddy Shoop in Summer School. Maybe a little too cool at times, but enforced in that he's just the gym teacher who was forced to teach remedial English or lose his job.
  • Jaime Escalante, from Stand and Deliver, which is based on an awesome true story (see Real Life, below).
  • Dewey Finn in School of Rock is a Reconstruction. He is not a trained teacher and is only posing as one to earn some quick money, and then only intends to use the children to make money from the Battle of the Bands. But he comes to care for the children and his influence really helps bring them together. He doesn't help their grades but he does help their creativity and self expression a lot.
  • Jack Griffith (played by Thomas Haden Church) in Easy A, at least through Olive's eyes. Starts one class with a rap song, although he immediately stops, claiming that doing that is disrespectful. Unfortunately, his wife doesn't appear to find him interesting enough to keep her from sleeping with a student.
  • Mary in The Muppets, such that her students simultaneously admit they'll miss her during their two-week Spring Break.
  • Brendan in Warrior is shown to be very popular and effective with his students. Once they learn he is also a badass MMA fighter, he proves even more popular.
  • Mr. John Keating in Dead Poets Society founds the society in question and encourages his students to follow their dreams. And becomes the The Scapegoat when one of his pupils is Driven to Suicide by his overbearing father, although the rest take his words to heart.
  • American History X: Venice Beach High's school principal Dr. Sweeney was apparently so cool as a literature teacher that Derek still respected him even after becoming a skinhead. He also gives personal attention to Danny in hopes of turning him away from racism.
  • Roberta Guspari Demetras in Music of the Heart. She spends ten years teaching violin to elementary kids in Harlem, then puts on a super concert to raise funds when her program is threatened with being cut. Also based on a Real Life teacher.
  • Glen Holland of Mr. Holland's Opus. Could be considered a reconstruction because he initially sees teaching as a "fallback"—a way to earn money to finance his composing. He quickly learns to care for the kids and love his job.
  • Deloris Van Cartier becomes this in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. She's asked to go undercover as the music teacher at an inner-city Catholic school on the verge of closure, discovers the students can sing, and turns them into a competition-winning choir, simultaneously convincing the local diocese to keep the school open.
  • In Temple Grandin, Temple has one of these, a science teacher named Mr. Carloch. He is the first teacher to see Temple as "different, not less," and encourage her gifts. He also sticks up for her when other teachers ridicule her and want to fail her because of the problems she has in some subjects due to autism/Asperger's. Temple stays in touch with Carloch after high school and even comes to his funeral.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: First Class: Charles adopts this role when he trains the young mutants; he is always friendly, supportive and caring.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Professor Xavier is well-liked by his students because of his warm and pleasant disposition. He even dresses cool by '80s standards (his clothing is more casual than what he wore in the original trilogy and in First Class), which makes it a little easier for the youngsters to relate to him because he puts in some effort in following current trends.
  • Zeki Müller in the German comedy movie Fack ju Göthe (a Funetik Aksent misspelling of Fuck You, Goethe.) and its sequel. He is a former criminal who, in an attempt to recover the lost money of the heist that brought him into prison, poses as a teacher at the Goethe Gesamtschule. The class he is supposed to teach is full of students with little to no manners or respect for the school staff. Hilarity ensues as the former prison inmate Zeki tries to teach Class 10b some manners. In the sequel he has to survive a class trip with his chaotic students to Thailand.
  • Erin Gruwell of Freedom Writers. Charged with teaching a class full of 'untouchable' students, she eventually encourages them to come together. When the school refuses to give the class new books, Erin works a second job to be able to pay for them herself. The students are inspired by her to fundraise for none other than Miep Giesnote  to visit the class.
  • Mr. Arthur from The Duff. Though a tad eccentric, he's the only teacher who doesn't hate his students, lust after them, or overreact to every little thing. He's even cool enough to brush it off when Bianca tells him to eat a dick when she mistakes him for another student who was going to tease her.

    Literature 
  • Gore Vidal's Creation shows us the philosophy and practice of Confucius who is so cool that even the cynical Gore Vidal is in awe of him.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Professor Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (in his later appearances he was no longer a teacher) and impostor Moody in book 4. Hagrid also counted while he was care of magical creatures teacher (although his lessons got a bit dangerous) as well.
    • In the film of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Harry himself becomes a teacher of sorts for Dumbledore's Army, Daniel Radcliffe suggested that Harry dress somewhat like Lupin in those scenes because he was the teacher he liked best and most wanted to emulate. Awww. The other teachers have shades of this (Evil ones like Umbridge and The Carrows notwithstanding as well as the incredibly boring Binns), although they tend to fit better into other categories.
    • A few teachers are this from specific students' perspectives. For example Hermione greatly admires Professor McGonagall, and over time Harry comes to as well. Lavender and Parvati are likewise in awe of Professor Trelawney - though Harry personally thinks she's nuts.
  • Bridge to Terabithia has Miss Edmunds. In a school that forces boring conformity, she as the music teacher is the only one who influences Jess and Leslie's creative sides. In the film she's played by Zooey Deschanel who takes this and runs with it.
  • Susan Sto Helit counts, by Thief of Time. She takes her students on field trips to battlefields and other continents, and has bogeymen and Death himself come in to talk to them. Overlaps with Badass Teacher.
  • Honoria Bulstrode, headmistress of Meadowbanks, from the Agatha Christie novel Cat Among the Pigeons. She's not overly strict, but she seems to have an almost telepathic knowledge of everything that goes on at her school. Eileen Rich, the English teacher, also qualifies.
  • Miss Bulstrode's friend Miss Emlyn from Halloween Party. Miss Emlyn actually figures out who the killer is before Poirot does, though she doesn't have enough evidence to go to the police, and Poirot consults her on several details of his plan before executing it.
  • In the 6th Ciaphas Cain book, Ciaphas seems to have become one of these (he admits to being more relaxed than the other teachers and seems more than willing to take his trainee commissars into the field to get some experience).
  • Aristo in The Roman Mysteries in the tutor of the four main character. He doubles as a Hot Teacher.
  • Several mentors in Warrior Cats are seen as cool by their apprentices. Bluestar in particular was thought of as awesome by her student Firestar.
  • Miss Honey from Matilda (both the film and the book). Doubly so when you consider she's brave enough to teach in a school ruled by the aunt who horribly abused her and likely murdered her father.
  • Miss Temple from Jane Eyre is the only openly sympathetic teacher at Lowood School. She becomes one of Jane's good friends as Jane grows up.
  • Main protagonist Lee Summerston in The Mako Saga is a college history professor and avid gamer, so much so that when he catches one of his students reading a magazine article on Mako Assault instead of paying attention to first-day orientation, he utterly schools the kid in his knowledge of the game, including advising him that he based his strategy to beat an early scenario on a historical battle... which is on such-and-such page of the textbook. The kid then realizes from Lee's mention that he's on the final level that he's "Daredevil", the leader of the current top-ranked team.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks is considered the most popular teacher at Madison High.
  • The Brady Bunch: How Peter tries to play up dull, old science teacher Mr. Price in "The Power of the Press." It doesn't work.
  • On Saturday Night Live, Seth Meyers played the titular Cool Teacher. On this occasion, however, he gets pushed aside by an even cooler teacher with a beanie hat, no tie, and hair like Garth from Wayne's World. Eventually, he was revealed to be a crotchety, bitter fellow teacher in a wig who was attempting to subvert Cool Teacher.
  • In Boy Meets World:
    • There was a cool teacher named Mr. Turner, and a "square" one, Mr. Feeny, who actually turns out to be something of a cool teacher and mentor to the students himself.
    • In one episode Eric takes over teaching a citizenship class for immigrants and turns out to be a rather cool (and incredibly gifted) teacher himself.
    • In Boy Meets World there was an episode when they were in college where they had a "cool" young professor, played by Fred Savage (Ben's real-life older brother). This episode kind of questions the trope because the professor doesn't respect boundaries — he tries to sleep with Topanga.
  • In My So-Called Life, a challenging but inspirational teacher has a brief stay at the school and seems to be the only teacher to care that Jordan can't read. Ultimately he's forced out when some skeletons in his personal life come to light, leaving his former students confused.
  • Glee:
    • Mr. Schuester is definitely this. Bonus points for being one of the main characters in the show.
    • Emma Pillsbury also has shades of this, however she's just the guidance counselor and is a tiny bit to occupied with her own problems.
    • Substitute teacher Hollie Holliday turned out to be a very cool teacher and was considered even cooler than Mr Shuester. However, she took it too far and let Mercedes sabotage Sue's car and was then unable to deal with the consequences.
  • Dr. Thomas "Tommy" Oliver in Power Rangers Dino Thunder. Careers prior to teaching include superhero (more consecutive years doing so than anyone else on the planet), professional race-car driver, and mad scientist (he helped to create robot dinosaurs). Won several martial arts competitions back when he was in school. Fit all of his college education, racecar driving, and mad science career into seven years. Has finally cut his hair into a cool hairstyle.
  • Mrs. Quick from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. She's frequently there to put a stop to Mr. Kraft's Sadist Teacher policies while also providing plenty of quirkiness herself.
  • Mr. Futtstein from Clarissa Explains It All. Clarissa quotes him often, and everything she says about him makes him sound like the coolest teacher ever. Who else would give an assignment to watch TV for 24 hours straight to figure out how to improve it?
  • Rod Belding from Saved by the Bell. Later subverted when it turns out how much of a flake Rod is, willing to ditch his students on a field trip to have a date with a stewardess. Mr Belding tried to be the cool teacher, but was generally the Reasonable Authority Figure. It was only when a third party entered the scene that Belding would team up with his students and let his Cool Teacher flag fly.
  • A repeated sketch in The Armstrong and Miller Show (the Channel 4 version) spoofed this. The skits starred a really Cool Teacher who would use his unorthodox teaching method and passion to teach life lessons and make sure his students get the most out of their education... until the bell would ring, at which point he would become the ultimate Apathetic Teacher, immediately pulling out a newspaper, sitting down and telling his students to "fuck off", in the process completely abandoning or even directly contradicting whatever message he'd been trying to teach mere seconds ago.
  • Syrio Forel of Game of Thrones, Arya's "dancing master", who instructs her in both Braavosi swordfighting and advanced scenery-chewing.
  • Dr. Dupree in The Famous Jett Jackson has elements of this. He seems to be your typical English teacher, but he does, on occasion, do something fun. In one episode, Jett screws up royally with his family, at school (by reading Poe's Raven to a rap beat, causing Dupree to shut him down and claim he's disrespecting the author), and friends. He then appears to end up in a "Groundhog Day" Loop. On his third iteration, he manages to get everything right. Then it turns out to have been All Just a Dream, except the first iteration, naturally. Except that things actually get better. His friend is no longer pissed at him, realizing he was right. His great-grandmother and his father admit they overreacted. At school, Dr. Dupree also admits that Jett's "performance" wasn't as bad as he initially thought. In his mind, Jett tried to mix Poe's poetry with the "urban poetry of rap", which was very popular with the students.
  • Inverted with the Mr. Goodman character of So Random!. His attempts at being cool usually result in bodily harm, and his students awkwardly asking for him to teach them normally.
  • Person of Interest: Finch, posing as a substitute math teacher, explaining the number pi to a room full of bored high school students:
    ... Which means that contained within this string of decimals is every single other number. Your birth date, combination to your locker, your Social Security number. It's all in there somewhere. and if you convert these decimals into letters, you would have every word that ever existed in every possible combination. The first syllable you spoke as a baby, the name of your latest crush. Your entire life story from beginning to end. Everything we ever say or do... all of the world's infinite possibilities rest within this one simple circle. Now, what you do with that information... what it's good for... well, that would be up to you.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Alaric Saltzman. He's young, intelligent, good looking and he's a badass vampire hunter aside from being the school's history teacher.
  • Bernard hedges in the British TV series "Please Sir," who begins as a butt monkey but later achieves this status through his genuine dedication and fairness.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Ian Chesterton is a science teacher who is also a big fan of pop music, surprising Susan by knowing fanboy details about the charts in the first episode and dancing to The Beatles in "The Chase" (and the Telos novella Time and Relative). He's also young, friendly, handsome, an Action Hero companion and travels through time, though not beyond teacher sarcasm.
    • Clara Oswald became one as of "Day of the Doctor". She teaches English, has a motorbike, is young and pretty and fashionable, and time travels (occasionally regaling her students with stories about her adventures, like that one time she found out how good a kisser Jane Austen was...). And she even calls her students "amateurs" for even thinking about asking for homework. Oh, and she occasionally gets called out of class by a secret paramilitary organization and the prime minister.
  • Although we don't see too much of her in action, Mary Margaret from Once Upon a Time is the one positive influence in Henry's life - and gave him his fairy tale book as a way of encouraging his imagination. Of course in her past life she was Snow White - princess and Lady of War - taking this trope to a new level.

    Video Games 
  • Jack, the former Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, becomes this in Mass Effect 3 if she survived the previous game, to students at Grissom Academy.
  • Kyojin Usami of Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!, while something of a Butt Monkey and No Respect Guy in-universe, is noted to be quite popular with his students due to his tendency to discard typical class lessons in favor of giving advice based on genuine life experience. He also serves as something of a mentor to main character Yamato while also being quite skilled at martial arts.

    Web Original 
  • In Lovelace Ĺ, Mr. Stone — Andi's mentor — is highly supportive of his students and tries to do his best by them. In Part 4, Andi describes him as buying into "the 'Dead Poets Society' thing."
    Mr. Stone: Are you kidding? No way. Robin Williams was a terrible teacher in that movie. Seriously, aphorisms and pep talks donít teach Blake.
  • Dumbbell is shaping up to be one in Ask Hoops and Dumbbell. He's only a student teacher, but it only takes him one day with his students to start wracking up Cool Teacher points.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in South Park with Mr. Cartmanez, in which Cartman acts like Mr. Escalante from Stand and Deliver to try to teach inner-city kids how to cheat in tests.
  • The Magic School Bus has Ms. Frizzle. She has a pet chameleon, her school bus can go anywhere in time or space, and nothing ever fazes her.
  • Recess:
    • One episode had a former student (and rival of Sadist Teacher Ms. Finster) return to the school to work as a teacher. By the end of the episode he's reconciled his love of science with his aversion to being boring and became one of these.
    • The mysterious Mr. E, a substitute teacher who wins over the entire class with the exception of TJ, who's appalled at how quickly they forgot about Ms. Grotke.
    • Miss Grotke's a pretty cool teacher herself as well. She has a relaxed approach to life, meditates on a regular basis and was revealed in one episode to perform magic shows for the elderly. Also in the movie, she's also not afraid to unleash her martial arts skills on anyone who threatens her students.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
  • Miss Finch on Birdz is generally supportive of Eddie. In one episode, she allows him to shoot a video essay instead of writing one, to support his love of filmmaking.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle becomes for the CMC, a special tutor who takes special time to help our favorite fillies find their true potential.
  • Mr. Simmons of Hey Arnold bounces between being this and a total idiot.
  • Mr. Ratburn from Arthur, while also a Stern Teacher, is cool in that he makes sure his students learn what they need to and also practice thinking for themselves. In addition, he has an affinity for stuff kids like, such as cartoons and cake. He also makes puppets and uses them in shows.

    Real Life 
  • Many people will have "that one teacher" who is just plain awesome and does things his/her own way.
  • Purportedly, Something Awful Goon/high school science/forensics teacher Gene Splicer is this: "Who was the one who brought the maggots so the students could mess around with them? Me!" The other known teacher-goonette, English professor(?) Jidohabankai (this is almost certainly wrong) is more of a Sadist Teacher With A Heart Of Gold (she does terrible things to cell phones that dare to ring during classtime).
  • Jaime Escalante, made famous by Edward James Olmos' portrayal in Stand and Deliver, was a Bolivian immigrant who came to Los Angeles to teach computer literacy at an inner city school. Only, when he arrived, there were no computers, so instead he started teaching math, including starting an AP Calculus class. Despite numerous naysayers, his AP class consistently had the highest test passage rate in the country (so high that at one point they were investigated for cheating, but were exonerated). He was so beloved by his students that they stole his car in order to fix it up for him (many of his successful students were former delinquents). On the side, he taught remedial math and an English class for immigrants at night.
  • Carl Sagan. Many of his own students are now big-time celebrity scientists in their own right. Neil deGrasse Tyson might be the most famous example. Bill Nye is another.
  • Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, is the Internet's official Cool Teacher.


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