Elite Eight: Fictional Teachers

As back-to-school season is upon us, sometimes it’s hard to think about going back and leaving summer behind, especially not always knowing what you’re getting into. But one thing that can truly make the difference between a good year and a bad one are the teachers. So today I’ll be talking about what teachers I love…in books! Most of these teachers will be from kids and YA books, since after all, kids are the ones in school–and I find that most of the teachers in adult novels I’ve read haven’t been very good so far!

Do you love any of the teachers I mention? Did I miss any other good ones? Let me know in the comments.

Mrs., Junie B. Jones

While everyone else is worrying about what the note in Pam’s teapot said or what Penny’s last name was in the Big Bang Theory, I’m over here wondering about what Mrs.’ last name was. (Seriously, what was it?) Not always patient with rambunctious Junie B, Mrs. was nevertheless a great teacher. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Junie B; in fact, Mrs. was often supportive, sticking up for her when she brought in a fish stick for Pet Day and celebrating with her when she got the biggest Valentine in the class. She also isn’t afraid of a little wrongdoing, like testing grapes in the grocery store. It was then that we learned that teachers are real people (who don’t live at school). And when Junie B. moved on to first grade, I found myself missing Mrs. in the same way I always missed my old teacher on the first day of a new year.

Professor Lupin; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

There are many teachers to choose from here-McGonagall, Hagrid, and are other contenders, but Professor Remus Lupin wins out. He’s a great, supportive teacher whose class you actually look forward to during the week because you get to do super fun things in that class period, like fight actual magical creatures. He doesn’t let other teachers harass his students (coughSNAPEcough), but instead lets the unassuming, shy students be recognized. He’s also not afraid to get to know his students, though having a connection to Harry likely helped with that.

Mr. Gianini; The Princess Diaries

Normally your algebra teacher coming to live at your house would be a nightmare, especially for Mia and I (words people). But after a while, having Frank Gianini as her stepfather wasn’t so bad. Sure, it came with some downsides–extra practice at home, anyone? But hey, it was all in the name of helping Mia try to get good grades. Soon, he became a cool drum-playing member of the family, though it probably helped matters when Mia was no longer taking high school algebra too.

Mrs. Claire Shawcourt; The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris

At first glance, Claire Shawcourt may seem like your average French teacher. Anna takes her class and doesn’t take much away from it…or does she? When the two reunite, Claire suggests that Anna go to France, and helps her brush up on her French skills even as adults. It’s revealed that Claire has an ulterior motive to have Anna help reunite her with a long-lost love, but the adventures they have together are those of two friends. Who says you can’t be friends with your teacher? Mrs. Shawcourt proves that you really can use high school skills later in life.

Bill; Perks of Being a Wallflower

Sometimes it’s hard to share your thoughts in front of the whole class. Charlie knows, but so does his advanced English teacher, Bill. Seeing potential and passion in one of his shy students, the two often talk about books that he assigns Charlie in private. He automatically gives Charlie As, because he likes him, but gives him the real grades in private. Seems sketchy? Not really, considering that Charlie is getting a good education. And it’s nice that the two can become genuine friends. Bill gives lots of advice to Charlie about putting himself out there, and it seems to pay off.

Ms. Bunder; Amazing Days of Abby Hayes

Not even an official teacher, Ms. Bunder still proves that learning should be fun. A friend of Abby’s real fifth grade teacher, Ms. Kantor, she came in once a week to share creative writing exercises. How cool is that? She encouraged Abby, and the rest of the class, to be creative in their work. She often let the students decide writing topics. And when Abby was less than thrilled about being the class advice columnist, Ms. Bunder gave her advice to reach her full potential. The two had such a special bond that Ms. Bunder gave Abby her business card at graduation. We’d all love to have a class, and teacher, like Ms. Bunder, even if you don’t love creative writing. As for me, the whole thing would be a dream come true.

Miss Winston; Kirsten Learns A Lesson (American Girl)

It must be terrifying to move to a new country and have to speak the native language only at school. For Kirsten, it was. And Miss Winston expected not just English only, but for her to recite a poem in English. Although Miss Winston seemed strict, she was able to assist Kirsten in learning the poem and even helped her choose one that reminded her of home in Sweden. She’s what we need in teachers: she expects hard work, but is willing to help you through it all.

Mr. Ratburn; Arthur

Because Arthur originated as picture books and had a chapter book series, I’m including Mr. Ratburn here too. A feared teacher by Arthur’s new third grade class, he does have a reputation for giving a considerable amount of homework. In some episodes, we see Arthur look longingly at Miss Sweetwater’s class, who are often singing songs and telling jokes. But when it comes down to it, Mr. Ratburn is truly a great teacher. He helps his students study for tests and spelling bees and genuinely wants them to succeed. He takes them on actually fun field trips and is a great puppeteer too. And if you want to find an excuse to have a class party, Mr. Ratburn is almost always game (he LOVES cake). If you want to see some examples, just watch some Arthur (it’s actually a great show and not just for nostalgia purposes). I see many more instances of Mr. Ratburn’s good side than his bad one. And we all know this: Miss Sweetwater’s class will fail fourth grade, but Mr. Ratburn’s class will be prepared for anything.

Who is your favorite fictional teacher? Did I miss any?

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