Jaime Escalante, as portrayed by Edward James Olmos

Working through your pre-survey, preliminary reactions to the film clip from Stand and Deliver. Thought some of you might be interested in the full list of comments:


  • Puerile
  • Attempted to connect/relate to his students on multiple levels, even on their own disrespect at the beginning of class. Presented information in several ways that connected to the students in a real life context.
  • He’s relating to the students in their style of communicating.
  • that he did a fantastic job of tailoring his approach to his specific group of students
  • The teacher was meeting the students where they were and bringing them along on his terms.
  • He’s challenging the students to think for themselves, instead of telling them what they should think.
  • Excellent teacher. Understands his students’ needs and has developed a teaching style that aims to be effective with them. He is in control and at the same time working hard to engage them.
  • This happens to be a scene from one of my all time favorite movies. I showed this movie to every one of my high school math students at every level from the time I saw it (and it had just been released) until I retired from teaching 2 years ago. Every year Jaime Escalante inspired me to expect more from my remedial students, to challenge my AP calculus students, and to make math relevant and alive and exciting for all my students.
  • He’s energetic, encouraging, confident, prepared, engaging of disengaged students, offering cultural pride and connecting students to their heritage, and communicating (with humor) that the students can and will learn.
  • I’m always in awe when I see this. I’m left wanting to learn more math and I can see how he has invited one of the gang members in to these ideas and intriguing him. He manages to use humor, engage the ethnic pride of the students, and honor them by teaching them the place they have been pegged – basic math. He wants more for them.
  • Positive impressions broke down barriers well
  • He’s making an effort to engage every one of his students
  • I thought the teacher’s roaming the aisles and getting in the face of the students was compelling. His teaching style seemed provocative but also somewhat patronizing.
  • He is familiar with his audience
  • He is brave, willing to take on a challenge, willing to use humor, and eager to teach under negative circumstances.
  • I liked that he challenged his students, although I doubt I have the guts to do so so aggressively.
  • I was a little dubious about his approach; it wouldn’t have surprised me to see more of a challenge to his authority from some of the students.
  • He tries very hard to meet them where they are. He’s fearless, confident, and clearly believes they can all learn. He comes dangerously close to confrontation but he keeps them just off kilter enough, interested enough in his “differentness,” that they are willing, for now, to go along.
  • I like that he made the teaching relevant to the student’s experience and the repetition. It is a very effective teaching tool.
  • Clever and adaptable.
  • I remember that when I saw this film the first time (before I had ever been a teacher) I thought it was inspiring. Now, after 12 years as a teacher, it looks more like another Hollywood fantasy. A teacher might very well teach in this way but I’ve never seen students so well-behaved.
  • The teacher is aware of the type of students he has in his classroom. He approaches the students in a way that sparks their interest.
  • Teacher seems to be familiar with the types of students and what they are used to hearing, but I felt uncomfortable with some of his casualness and use of slang with students.
  • He is smart to teach to his students and not standardize them.
  • Tough love.
  • The teacher looks out of his league but he quickly tries to associate with his students and speak with them in a way that gets a few giggles, but ultimately lets them know he wants to educate them in a way they’ll ‘get it.’
  • The teacher strongly asserts himself to let all of the students know that he is in control. He shows no fear. He “reads” the students well, knows his audience, and knows how to get their attention. He is passionate about the subject he is teaching. He also quickly simplifies a subject that is very difficult for many to learn. You could argue that he talks down to the students who arrived late, but by the end of the scene, every student is engaged and is repeating the mantra.
  • He relates everything from the nicknames he’s giving students to how math is in their blood. Seems slightly condescending, but effective.
  • Connecting with the students, establishing authority without being autocratic
  • He cares about his students
  • He recognizes his students do not respect school and thus utilizes non-conventional ways of teaching to reach them.
  • teacher comes across as charismatic, brilliant, brave, caring scene is beautiful romanticized version of teaching high risk kids makes me feel a bit sad for other “normal” or smart non-gang affiliated kids in the rooms since their educational experience will be less if the teacher focuses all his energy on the few gang-affiliated young men
  • Abrupt. Hard, A jackass.
  • He appeared to be confrontational, but he seemed to know that this approach was needed to get started. The final question – Why. was what made me curious to want to watch further. Was he using a closet Socratic approach.
  • Dated and unrealistic for today’s inner city schools unfortunately.
  • My first impression is that he wants to encounter and teach his students within their own context. To comment on his teaching I think I would have to see what happens next – I think he opened up a line of communication as a teacher, but where this would lead him in terms of content, advanced mathematical concepts I am not sure.
  • He tries to relate to his students
  • Funny, brave, gutsy, caring
  • Unrealistic affinity, oversimplification of entrenched barriers, compelling characterization
  • He’s awesome and by connecting with students using the same “lingo” he is able to connect with them and build trust.
  • Confident, not easily thrown off his game. Understands how to talk to his audience
  • unusual, impressive personality, knows how to get people to follow him
  • Her maintained his equanimity, appealed to their ethnic pride, and led them gently.
  • I was expecting more of a “Hollywood” teaching approach (the teacher and gang member stand-down), but by the middle, with the demonstration of positive and negative, and then with the repetition of the phrase at the end, the scene felt more like something I would do in my own language classroom.
  • I wasn’t too optimistic about his success, and I thought the early emphasis on negative numbers seemed a little strange.
  • He is trying to connect with them on a different level to teach them something they may not currently see the value in knowing.
  • He is confident, experienced and believes in his students and is passionate about learning.
  • Positive. He is able to engage these kids “where they are.” He is never condescending and he knows their world and can use examples they can relate to. Also,I believe he communicates his genuine love for his subject and his students at all times.
  • He definitely seems to have faith in even the students who are least willing to participate.
  • My first impression of the teacher is that he truly understands the subject and wants his students to learn. I believe his teaching style is to connect with his students using terminology and analogies that they understand while “secretly” teaching them math.
  • The teacher is trying to both inspire his students to learn math and to gain control of his classroom. But he insults students (e.g. calling one of them “nethead”) and threatens them with violence (even though he whispers it).
  • engaged, in touch with the youth culture, friendly yet confrontational, upbeat
  • He comes across as a little condescending, but he seems genuinely interested in making sure his students grasp the material.
  • Brave, passionate, imaginative.
  • He is trying to speak to the students using their language and style of speaking. He uses eye contact and movement around the room in order to ‘connect.’
  • A teacher trying to connect to a group of detached students using a common form of communication
  • He was using his knowledge of the students and their lives to get on their level with them to teach and challenge them.
  • Teach ….By any means necessary! Active learning. Make it relate to current environmental and social points of reference.
  • Positive. He quickly figures out his best target for conversion and doesn’t let him off the hook until he answers. He dignifies his students while teasing them. The math is “in your blood.” But at the same time teases them by calling the burros. They’ll have to earn the esteem they get from this guy. He speaks their language in more ways than the obvious. Also he uses rote repetition, which I think works.
  • it seems he is trying to be “hip” or just trying to help them relate math to concepts they are familiar with
  • The teacher seems very excited, outgoing, and confident.
  • tough class, only talked to the men. I don’t know what I would do, but he certainly went after the most un-engaged students (although they all seemed unengaged).
  • Dedicated. Speaking in a way that makes the students listen (somewhat bullying). Getting one to answer correctly builds confidence for that student and respect for the teacher in many.
  • Positive!


And your general comments on your own learning:


  • I was fortunate to have had a number of good teachers and I recall that one common feeling that I had in each teacher/student relationship was a sense of the teacher’s obvious pleasure and pride when a concept became clear to me or when I received an honor of some kind.
  • My most memorable teachers embodied most or all of the positive traits on the previous part of the survey. They made learning personal and take on importance through relevance and interesting aspects of the presentation – content and style.
  • The best teachers I had were so aware of what was happening in the classroom or during learning experiences and they so enjoyed what they were doing that it was nearly impossible to resist their enthusiasm.
  • I had the good fortune to take an advanced philosophy seminar the spring of my first year with only seven other students. I still look back on this course as the deciding point of my academic career. Despite an obscure subject matter and a textbook which was, when I first started reading it, nearly impenetrable to me, it was perhaps the most inspiring and enjoyable class I’d ever had. I attribute this entirely to my professor’s exceptional ability to create an exciting and relaxed discussion environment, and his knack for breaking down the difficult concepts we covered with ease and humour. In retrospect, given the difficulty of the subject, he provided a great deal of explication, going over in detail everything we’d read in the text. But he did this not by reviewing what was there, but by giving his own, lighter, easier, and entirely adaptable explanations. He was somehow able to explain it in exactly the way we needed to hear, and while he did so, make us discuss and reason out the concepts for ourselves. Even though I had walked in with hardly any idea what the text was saying, I would leave feeling like a real philosopher –– genuinely able to think about these ideas myself and defend my positions. I’ve since encountered many professors who take a much more hands-off approach, almost holding the opinion that understanding the text is obviously entirely the student’s responsibility. Certainly, reading it is –– probably more than once. But I can will forget the joy and ease with which I learned concepts in that class, through a combination of dedicated reading on my own, and brilliant explanations from my professor, reinforced with challenging discussion. So this model still seems to me the ideal of what higher learning can provide.
  • As a student, I am a self-directed learner so I find time spent on hand-holding and use of gimmicky teaching techniques to be frustrating. My most memorable teachers have been more knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects rather than any particular teaching methodology.
  • Flexibility while teaching is so important. I feel for the teachers who are stuck between a rock and a hard place with today’s standards and curriculum.
  • The most memorable, best teacher I had was an English teacher who taught Flannery O’Connor. He knew the material backwards and forwards. He had a knack for pulling out phrases and sentences from the material and showing us that they weren’t just randomly strung together words. The words were chosen carefully and in a meaningful way. Many times just a few words could speak for the whole short story. His passion for the subject made me feel passionate about a subject that I’d never been interested in before.
  • the teachers I liked the most were deeply interested and knowledgeable about the subject – the substance of what is taught rather than the style always appeals to me most I think the best teaching is done so that the student develops a relationship with ownership of the material being taught
  • I believe if a teacher shows interest in students that they will show interest in them
  • She made me want to work hard, to push myself further, to go the extra mile all because she made me fell such a strong connection to the course material
  • I found strict teachers to be more helpful in my learning than lenient teachers.
  • The best teachers have usually been the best story tellers. People who teach you something but you don’t realize you are learning.
  • The teachers I remember most always owere happy to see my curiosity about a subject and would open their libraries to me, always taking me further. They were never annoyed with my questions and always would try to answer them or show me where to find the answers.
  • The commonality in my best memories of learning is the creation of a learning ‘space’, a charged environment that challenged and excited me and called forth my creative and intellectual capacities.
  • As a former teacher, I love to see teachers who are able to get down to their students’ level and use the world they live in as a teaching tool. Students make great learning partners when they sense respect, knowledge, and , sometimes most important of all, humor.. A happy class is a learning class.
  • Taking risks is important. Attention to learning styles and being a critically reflective teacher is key.
  • there are no constants and consistency is never dependable when teaching, flexibility is always necessary…learning happens differently for everyone and no teacher should be so arrogant as to expect they will be able to reach or help every student
  • Regarding the previous list of questions, I think the importance of many will vary depending on the level of education and context. In the video, the techniques were appropriate for this group of high school students. Some of these techniques might not have worked with a different group. As educational level increases, students should take more responsibility for their own learning. The level of importance for graduate students might be much different.
  • Although I learn best in an active classroom where there is much teacher-student interaction, I also enjoy experiences where the teacher allows me to learn more or faster than the rest of the class. Many times with certain subjects I want to be challenged more than the ‘average’ student, and the best experiences have allowed me to do that. This can take the form of independent projects, additional reading, even teaching the class. It doesn’t make a change in my grade, yet it builds my knowledge in the subject beyond the syllabus restrictions.
  • Teachers should be positive, remembering that students are just beginning to discover themselves. Doing so fosters a community of learning and possibility.
  • Reinforcement , relatable , encouragement , safe spaces are essential for learning
  • good repetitive examples always helped me, like “Abbot throws the chalk”
  • Organization and clarity on the part of the teacher are very important to me having a positive learning experience.
    speaking about learning (not teaching): i remember aha! moments when teachers, some of who presented in a dry style, presented information in a new way. I’ve learned that being flamboyant is not essential…. I think it’s so varied I couldn’t go for just one style of teaching as the best. I do think that I learn best by doing. But somethings I’ve learned by hearing or reading!
  • I had a sixth grade science teacher who would show us magic tricks on Fridays if we did well earlier in the week.

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