Two former teachers from Austin, Texas, have taken the concept of a fictional documentary, recently used to depict the idiosyncrasies of white-collar work in “The Office,” and adapted it for the classroom. “Chalk,” a mockumentary about discouraged educators, follows new teachers as they deal with classroom etiquette, cultural issues, and stereotypes, and delves into the reason why 50 percent of new teachers reportedly quit within their first few years.
The movie has garnered some independent film awards, including Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and received mostly positive reviews—along with some harsh criticism. The Los Angeles Times says the film is “very funny” and “shows empathy for its subjects,” while the San Diego Union Tribune says it is “demeaningly patronizing to educators, cheaply dismissive of students.”
In an interview with the Austin Film Society, the film’s creators, Mike Akel and Chris Mass, said they wanted to capture the day-to-day lives of teachers. “Traveling with the film for a year and talking with teachers, people feel they’re babysitting more than teaching,” said Akel. “And I think that right there is the deflator.” As solutions, he suggests that administrators give teachers a more workable discipline systems and try implementing team teaching.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.