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Reimagining Education

  • Innovator in making Education student-centered, engaging, effective, and equitable.

  • Inner-City Public School Teacher, (reimagined student-driven instruction)

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The global pandemic has brought even veteran teachers back to their first year of teaching. Being forced to teach remotely involves creating brand new systems and brings with it uncertainty and fear from students, parents, teachers, and administrators alike, while exposing many of the inequities in our social fabric. But remote instruction has also presented educators with a remarkable opportunity. That’s because it has refocused attention on one of the primary challenges that brand new teachers, and now even experienced teachers and parents at home, are facing today, which is: How do we keep a student engaged? How do we teach in a way that makes the student want to learn? This moment offers an unprecedented opportunity to leverage the knowledge of experienced teachers to re-examine the way we teach, and create new systems that could better serve our students. This is something Hanan Harchol has personal experience with, having gone from a teacher who contemplated leaving the profession to becoming a successful educator who empowers his students by embracing dynamic, student-centered paradigms. If there was ever a moment to come together to reimagine education, from a myriad of perspectives including those of dis-engaged students, overworked teachers, frustrated administrators, anxious parents, it is now.

Harchol is currently in his twelfth year as a New York City public high school teacher and his students are thriving. But he recognized how close he had come to leaving the profession in his first year, as so many do. In fact, according to a 2019 report by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, 41% of New York City teachers leave the profession within their first five years. The attrition rate for programs such as Teach for America and Teaching Fellows is significantly higher. Harchol saw the need to make a film that realistically depicts the experience of new teachers in the inner-city classroom with the authenticity that only an insider can provide, in order to bring awareness to what was causing so many teachers to leave the profession so quickly. Harchol’s critically acclaimed semi-autobiographical feature film, ABOUT A TEACHER, written, directed and produced by Harchol, with many of his former students in the cast and crew, focuses on Harchol’s first three years as a teacher, candidly presenting an insider’s perspective on the multitude of ways in which so many teachers are set up to fail through inadequate training and unrealistic administrative demands, and why some teachers end up succeeding and others don’t. When asked about the catalyst for making this film, Harchol poignantly shared: “I realized that the way teachers are portrayed on screen is a poor caricature of what we actually do. I wanted to shed light on the immense challenges and responsibilities confronting new teachers in order to support those teachers who may be thinking about leaving, as I was in my first year. And also to show how I had to change my approach and adopt new tools to make my teaching more student-centered, in order to empower my students and allow them to thrive.”

In his presentations, Harchol provides a wealth of specific and actionable strategies to help teachers engage their students, using differentiated, student-centered, and student-driven instruction.


  • "the rare 'inspired by' movie that actually inspires...remarkable...aligned to the docudrama stylings of Mike Leigh..."  -  Michael Rechtshaffen,  Los Angeles Times

  • "I've rarely seen a movie about teachers and students that was this realistic" - Peter Rainer FilmWeek 


  • "Few [movies about inner city schoolteachers] have approached the subject with the impressive realism and naturalism as Hanan Harchol's semi-autobiographical feature directorial debut..."   
    -  Frank Sheck, Hollywood Reporter


  • "A new film written and directed by a teacher comes closer to capturing the feel of classroom life than most of its big budget predecessors...It turns out that it takes a teacher to make a decent movie about a teacher." 
    Robert Pondiscio EducationNext


  • "Harchol has created a movie that should be shown in every required entry-level education course." 
    -  Bev Questad  It's Just Movies

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Reimagining Public Education

ABOUT A TEACHER Official Movie Trailer​ 

 Hanan Harchol speaks about his experience as a new teacher.




Too often, when a child is deemed obstinate or “not wanting to learn,” the underlying problem has more to do with the fact that the instruction itself is not engaging. Nobody enjoys hearing a teacher in the front of the room droning on, and just because a class is quiet, doesn’t mean students are actually listening to, or more importantly, learning the content. How can we make education more engaging, and in the process, can we improve retention and deepen learning? Borrowing from his years of experience as an inner-city public school teacher, and referencing his critically acclaimed semi-autobiographical feature film, ABOUT A TEACHER, Hanan Harchol examines what engages students in learning and offers numerous tools on transforming a boring classroom into an engaging and interactive, student-led hub of critical thinking, differentiated instruction, analysis, and learning.

Topic Takeaways

  • Why Students Rebel: A teacher’s perspective on how to transform a “defiant” student into an excited and willing learner.

  • Student Centered Teaching: Student-driven teaching strategies that make teaching more effective and engaging.

  • The Power Of Group Work: What happens when students are learning from each other?

  • Differentiation and Metacognition: Designing lessons which allow for differentiated entry points to the material: visual, kinesthetic, etc., while incorporating Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, so every student is challenged at their level, keeping them engaged.

  • Remote Learning: Tools to keep remote learners engaged, including, routine & structure, student-led instruction, individual accountability, and group work.

Hanan Harchol speaks about Student Engagement



With so many teachers leaving the profession, and a large percentage doing so within their first five years, the question arises: why are teachers quitting in such large numbers, and so early into their careers? And, is there anything that can be done to reverse the tide?


In this presentation, Hanan Harchol uses his personal experience as an inner-city public school teacher and his critically acclaimed semi-autobiographical feature film, ABOUT A TEACHER, as a springboard to provide an authentic and candid look into the demands and responsibilities that are overwhelming teachers, especially those who are new to the profession. Harchol describes how teachers are entering the profession with insufficient training, and are receiving insufficient support once in the classroom to handle the demands and responsibilities thrust upon them, ultimately resulting in subpar education for so many students. Harchol offers helpful changes that would better prepare teachers before they even enter the classroom, as well as ways to support and mentor teachers in their first years. Harchol also delves into some pragmatic pedagogic tools and student-led paradigms that helped him improve as a teacher.


Topic Takeaways

  • Why Teachers Quit: Hear an insider’s perspective on the challenges facing teachers

  • Student-Centered Teaching: Student-driven teaching strategies 

  • Teacher Support: How to support teachers in the classroom

  • Teacher Training: Actionable ways to reinvent teacher education and training by providing tools and paradigms they will need to be successful in the classroom.




In addition to his work as a public school teacher and filmmaker, Harchol is also the creator, writer, and animator of Jewish Food For Thought: The Animated Series, a collection of lively animated conversations between Hanan and his parents that explore Jewish teachings on themes such as Kindness, Forgiveness, Love, Gratitude, Conflict Resolution, and many others. Created with generous funding by The Covenant Foundation, Harchol’s animations are used in countless synagogues and Jewish Day Schools around the world, and Harchol has been invited to present his animations at Jewish educational conferences and synagogues across the country and in the UK. Most recently, Harchol has been invited to speak about the many Jewish teachings that are connected to his work as a public school teacher and are demonstrated in his feature film, ABOUT A TEACHER, such as Judging Others Favorably, Humility, Chesed, Tzedakah, and Teshuvah. 

Jewish Education
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Jewish Food For Thought: The Animated Series is a free, online animated series for adults and teens that teaches Jewish ethics and values through engaging and thought-provoking animated conversations between Hanan Harchol and his parents. Harchol’s animations have been used in Jewish educational institutions and synagogues worldwide. Harchol offers presentations on various topics such as Forgiveness, Humility, Conflict Resolution, Gratitude, and Kindness. In a typical presentation, Harchol discusses how the project came about, screens a ten-minute animation, and then delves into a lively, interactive discussion on the subject at hand as it applies to everyday situations, with active participation, comments, and questions from the audience. Harchol also references Jewish text sources that were used in creating the animations. The result is an engagement with Jewish wisdom that speaks to our daily life and everyday interactions. Jewish Food for Thought: the Animated Series is created with generous funding by The Covenant Foundation with fiscal sponsorship by the Foundation for Jewish Culture and FJC.

Hanan Harchol - EXCERPTS of Presentation on the topic of HUMILITY for Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies
July 9th, 2020. Jewish Food For Thought: The Animated Series , was created with generous funding by The Covenant Foundation.

Hanan Harchol, the creator, writer, and animator of Jewish Food For Thought: The Animated Series discusses his critically acclaimed semi-autobiographical feature film, ABOUT A TEACHER, and the numerous Jewish values that are connected to his work as a public school teacher and demonstrated in his feature film, including Judging Others Favorably, Humility, Chesed, and Teshuvah (just to name a few). Jewish Food for Thought: the Animated Series is created with generous funding by The Covenant Foundation with fiscal sponsorship by the Foundation for Jewish Culture and FJC.

ABOUT A TEACHER Film Discussion with Hanan Harchol and Rabbi Nicole Auerbach - Presentation for Central Synagogue in Manhattan - Monday July 20, 2020


During this time of social distancing, Hanan Harchol is offering virtual live presentations which are delivered with the same passion, energy, and multi-media content that Harchol includes in his in-person speaking engagements. 


Hanan Harchol is a New York based teacher, filmmaker, animator, artist, and classical guitarist. Harchol was born in Kibbutz Kinneret, Israel, and moved to the US at the age of two.


Harchol recently released his first dramatic feature film, entitled ABOUT A TEACHER, a semi-autobiographical narrative, which he wrote, directed, and produced, based on his experience teaching filmmaking to inner-city public high school students. Garnering a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, critics are raving. The film is currently available on Amazon Prime in the US & UK, and Vimeo on Demand worldwide.


Harchol's animations have been broadcast on Channel 13, and at over 100 film festivals nationwide. Harchol's animations, drawings, and paintings were the subject of a solo, catalogued museum exhibition at The Hebrew Union College Museum in New York, which subsequently traveled around the country. 


Harchol's animated series Jewish Food For Thought, which is generously funded by The Covenant Foundation, teaches Jewish ethics through thought-provoking animated conversations between Harchol and his Israeli parents, and is used as an educational resource by countless schools and synagogues across the country, and was featured on websites ranging from NPR's, to, and, and is broadcast on Jewish Life TV and Shalom TV. Harchol has also been invited to present his work at Jewish educational conferences across the country and in the UK.


In addition to his visual artwork, Harchol is a professional classical guitarist, who has broadcast solo recitals on WQXR, New York, and has recorded eleven best-selling CDs.


Harchol lives in Manhattan with his wife and two sons.

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