My life has been drastically affected by teachers, a fact that makes me believe that teachers must be an integral part of how education will be improved here in the US. Both of my parents are elementary school teachers, and they do amazing things every day.
Many times, great teachers are also what you would call unconventional teachers. They take the end point, look at the usual way to go, and then do something completely different.
For an example, I give you Mrs. Frizzle.
Sure, she isn't real. But I can dream. And the idea of visualizing biology (even if you don't get to be the food Arnold eats) is a great idea.
There's also teaching by pushing students above and beyond what people think they are capable of...anyone remember Stand and Deliver?
This professor is baller. He earns the respect of his students, in a way that empowers them.
And then there is Jack Black, who teaches kids at a pretty uptight school how to be different.
And then there's the teacher in October Sky, who taught the boys that it was okay to love science in a coal-mining town. (and if you've never seen this, go for the eye candy that is Jake Gyllenhal. hott).
The list goes on and on (Mr. Holland's Opus, The Karate Kid, To Sir With Love, Finding Forrester, Music from the Heart, Dead Poet's Society, and yes, even Sister Act II).
Then there are also those teachers like Alton Brown, the guy from Man vs. Wild, people who write design blogs, Anthony Bourdain, Bill Nye, Abby from NCIS (it's on in the exercise room. All the time. She cracks me up), the guys from Mythbusters, the History Channel...
These are the people that spur you onto discovery, learning, investigation. They inspire curiosity. And that is the way to motivate students. No, I'm not saying that students should watch TV or movies to find their inspiration. But what I am saying is that these people---these unconventional creative thinkers---we need them to look up and say, "You know what? I want to be a teacher." And that...that would be cool.