Today I am guest posting for D.L Mayfield’s blog for her series, War Photography. It is an amazing series, and I am very honored to be posting on a site of a woman as talented as she.
What Teacher Movies Don’t Teach
When I was in college, I borrowed my boyfriend’s car to take myself to the movies on a Tuesday night. I sat in the middle of an empty theatre in Muncie Indiana and wept and cheered for Akeelah and all her spelling glory. I left that theatre inspired. I would be that teacher. I would grow my students to their fullest potential. I would change the world, one student at a time. I could not wait to get into my classroom.
This was not my first foray into the teacher movie. Not only had I seen Dangerous Minds starring Michelle Pfeiffer, when I was 12 I read My Posse Don’t Do Homework, the book the movie was based on. I loved Finding Forrester and Freedom Writer; any movie where the teacher was the hero was a movie I wanted to see.
I suppose I was attracted to these movies because they made me feel special. They made me feel like what I was about to do was important. They promised me that if I wanted it badly enough, if I just dug deep enough, I could be the change I so desperately wanted to see in my future students’ lives. My career would be a teacher movie and I would be the star!
Three months into my first classroom experience, I despised these movies. Every. Single. One.
Want to know why? You can read the rest here.
I know what you mean about teacher movies…but even after seventeen years of teaching, I still love them. Every. Single. One. They are my “go to” movies for inspiration BECAUSE of the very reasons you mention in your article. I need to know that what I do makes a difference–or at least that SOME teacher out there has made a difference, even if I’m not that one this time.
I completely agree with you that what we teachers need is a support group (not necessarily one where we go to get medicated or placated or even rejuvenated) that will help with taking over some of those never-ending hats we wear. It would be awesome if some people (and if a parent actually did, that would be amazing!) would volunteer in the ways you mention.
In today’s world of ever-increasing educational requirements (ie: Common Core Standards and End of Course tests that claim they test the students’ learning while really testing the students’ ability to take a multiple choice test) and equally ever-increasing student and community apathy, the one thing I have as a teacher is the knowledge that while my life is not ever going to match that of the movie teacher/hero, I am building cathedrals. My students are the cathedrals I work on daily. They are their parents’ best, and it is my calling to be the one who stands in the gap between where the student is and where s/he is supposed to be. I have to attempt (sometimes succeeding, often failing) to help them make that leap.
It is best, as you said, if we can work together, for, like Scripture says about a cord of three strands, it is harder for the world to break us when we do not try to do it all alone. Thank you for your words today; you became a partner (even though you didn’t know it) in my continued desire to be the best teacher I can be for the students who are in my care. Blessings.
I enjoyed reading your commentary on teacher/school movies. I have spent a great deal of time on the opposite approach. Teacher movies can be valuable teaching tools. If you have time review the webpage and the book Mentorship through the movies under the Mentoring Tab