media’s portrayal of the education system creates the perception that
teachers are role models and supportive figures and, at times, function
in the role of parent or friend to a struggling student. Teachers and
coaches can be constructed as flexible characters in a variety of
narratives because they are capable of serving in a variety of supportive
roles. In Nadine’s case, she turns to her teacher who, while not the
typical doting or passionate “good teacher,” appears to care for her and
to feel empathy and concern for the well being of his students. Mr.
Bruner can, thus, be seen as both a friend for his role as a trusted
confidant in Nadine’s life and as an agent of change because of his
ability to dispense advice and offer the support Nadine needs to gain
confidence in herself.
In a similar exploration of the teacher as a friend, Precious (2009)
offers another unique insight into how the emotionally struggling
student seeks out a good teacher as a friend. In “Constructing and
Discovering Images of Your Teaching,” Joseph Fischer and Anne
Kiefer define the good teacher as a friend as being, “the person they
[struggling students] turn to when they have a serious problem” (99). In
Precious, viewers see the abuse-filled past and present that torment 16-
year-old student Clarice “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), whose
sense of self worth is lost until her friendship blossoms with the kind-
hearted and passionate teacher, Ms. Rain (Paula Patton). Precious
reaches an emotional turning point when she feels cared for and
appreciated, even loved, by Ms. Rain after the teacher helps her escape
her old life by giving her shelter for the night in her own home then
helping her find new living arrangements. In this sense, Ms. Rain fits
the good teacher as a friend model because—as Mr. Bruner was for
Nadine in Edge of Seventeen—she is a confidant for Precious. While Ms.
Rain is also a teacher as a parental figure of sorts, she can be classified
as a friend because she “goes beyond her commitment in the
classroom” (Dalton 56) and is the one person that Precious is willing to
open up to about her problems.
The next category of good teacher in our model focuses on
agents of social justice, as demonstrated in The Corn is Green (1945). In
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