While many documentaries about schools have been made over the years, there are not many that have been filmed by the teachers in the stories. Thanks to current digital camera technology, I was able to bring my equipment into the classroom to capture more than 50 days worth of footage with no budget and no film crew.
Inspired by Frederick Wiseman’s classic HIGH SCHOOL, I originally set out to offer, from an insider’s perspective, a slice of life of my world. However, viewers who saw rough cuts pushed me to carve out my own statement from the footage. Wiseman, after all, was a stranger going into a place to act as a fly on the wall; I was not only of the place, I was a significant presence in that place, effecting the environment as both teacher and filmmaker.
So, while the film has an anthropological feel to it, documenting how I managed my classroom, encouraged hands-on learning, planned and taught authentic writing, led community-building activities, brought parents and volunteers into the room, and incorporated art and field trips into my practice, it also offers my personal take on standardized testing and, I hope, celebrates the joy of learning, which was the heart of pedagogical philosophy,