I LOVE Back-To-School! Sure, I have anxiety about it, and I know I’ll miss the lazy days of summer in just a few days. But for a few brief, shining hours on the First Day of School, I love just soaking it all in. The smell of freshly-waxed hallways and fried cafeteria food. The sounds of lockers slamming and teachers’ click-click heels in quiet hallways. Teachers and students are wearing their favorite back-to-school outfits, sporting new haircuts and standing taller than they did back in June. Everyone is putting their best foot forward. Parents are snapping photos and hugging and crying their kids, wondering when time will stop passing so quickly. Administrators–even the ones you rarely see after Week One–are out in the hallways, greeting and high-fiving kids and welcoming them back. It’s an exciting time for us all.
So to celebrate Back-To-School, I’ve compiled 26 of my favorite movie school scenes. Not all of these are school-appropriate, so you’ll want to watch clips all the way through before showing them to students. Enjoy!!!
NEVER BEEN KISSED
Drew Barrymore rocks as an undercover twenty-something who goes back to high school to try to find a story–any story–that will transform her from overlooked copy editor to hard-hitting reporter. But Drew is still a nerd deep down, and high school has changed a bit since she graduated.
FAST TIMES AT RIDGMONT HIGH
Take me back to 1982! In this scene, Mr. Hand has his first showdown with tardy stoner Jeff Spicoli. Don’t forget to smell those mimeographs!
In an attempt to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner, California cupcake Elle Woods gets herself accepted to Harvard Law, where Warner attends. Because that’s not hard at all.
Recess is over, kids. Time to read To Kill a Mockingbird and have gold stars and rubber balls on your forehead.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID
Get ready for back to school with some stellar advice from Greg’s older brother Rodrick. Some of this advice is practical for teachers, too.
Maybe my favorite high school movie of all time! In this scene, Travis Birkenstock gives his acceptance speech for having a class-high of 38 tardies. Go, Travis!
It’s Bart’s first day of Kindergarten! Ever wonder how he met Milhouse and became such an adorable troublemaker? Here’s your answer!
Welcome to Sky High! Are you a Hero or a Sidekick?
This is proof that even the teacher can have a bad first day. I do want this gorgeous classroom though–you can’t really see it in this scene, but there is a great treehouse-style reading loft in the corner!
THE BIG BANG THEORY
Professor Sheldon Cooper teaches a university course, but no one enrolls. Howard decides to take the class, but when Sheldon starts with the insults, the spitballs fly.
Smoking in the teachers’ lounge, dodgeball in gym class, and driver’s ed. Just try not to sing along!
HOMEY D. CLOWN AS A SUBSTITUTE TEACHER
Homey explodes with joy, tells kindergarteners their teacher is dead, and teaches a class of five kids some reading, art, music, and math.
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE
Harry gets his first look at Hogwarts, meets Professor McGonogall, hears about the Sorting Hat, and meets Draco Malfoy. They all look so young!
DEAD POETS SOCIETY
Carpe diem, y’all.
SCHOOL OF ROCK
Enjoy Mr. Schn…er, Mr. S’s…first day as a hungover substitute teacher at a prestigious prep academy. Watch out kids, he’s got a headache, and the runs.
Ms. Foot tells Sonny that five-year old Julian is the smelly kid in class.
THE KARATE KID
It’s Daniel LaRusso’s first day of school, and he’s about to officially meet the lovely Ali for the first time. I see this clip a lot differently now that I’ve seen Season 1 of Cobra Kai.
**Edit–June 15, 2019–Season 2 of Cobra Kai has the most EPIC first day of school scene in history! I can’t post it here without spoiling the whole season, but WOW. We watched Season 2 weeks ago, and we are still talking about that first day of school scene.
Brick: A school librarian’s worst nightmare.
THE WONDER YEARS
Coach Cutlip explains the female anatomy, which apparently looks like a cow’s head. Yikes.
This is me, waiting for the staff bus Monday morning.
On his first day of public school, ten-year old Auggie schools school bully Julian on the proper pronunciation of the word “supposedly.”
Poor Matilda is so excited to start school, but watch out for Ms. Trunchbull!
I am so out of fashion. I don’t have any pink Wednesday Dresses.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Oh, please, please, please put me in this class with Jerry Seinfeld as the teacher and Chris Farley and David Spade as my classmates. PLEASE!!!!!!
KEY & PEELE
“If one of y’all says some silly-ass name, this whole class is gonna feel my wrath!”
I saved this one for last because I plan to use it in an upcoming booktalk with my high schoolers. It’s perfect to show older students on the first day to start a discussion about school and conformity and creativity.