This is the first time I've watched this movie since I became a teacher, and I have to say it's much more realistic than some of the other ones I have seen (don't get me started on Freedom Writers). She's missing management 101 when she starts, but the first thing her classroom neighbor told her is "Don't try to talk over them," which is probably the best advice to give someone. The first day is horrible until she grows a pair. Although the cowboy boots on the desk with a plaid shirt might not intimidate inner-city kids, and it seems like karate could easily turn into a full blown fight.
I like that she gets better in fits and spurts, which is pretty realistic. Although it is damn hard to get them back if you start out struggling.
I like that she keeps caring, even when they don't get it and act like assholes. Also pretty realistic. And they try to teach her to dance, which my kids have totally done. I got laughed at trying to learn the jerk and the reject last year.
Also, I like that not all of the students make it. It's a more realistic portrayal than, "Look I am super teacher and I saved all of my students who are now in college and make speeches about how great I am." They don't all make it, no matter how great you are. I like that this movie owns that.
Unrealistic: why, in all movies, do they make it seem like they only have one class throughout the day? I mean, I know I get that it's less confusing. But can they not even acknowledge somewhere in there that she has a full schedule of classes?
But, she totally teaches bell-to-bell. Well done Ms. Johnson.