Sunday, July 18, 2010


I started watching a bunch of documentaries on Netflix Streaming and came across this one a few weeks ago.

I enjoyed Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me and when I saw his name attached to this I was interested. Plus, I am on the verge of receiving my master's in elementary education, so this intrigued me for that reason as well.

However, I sort of got duped and not by the filmmakers, but by myself. Chalk was in the documentaries section for Netflix so I assumed it was a straight-up documentary - but as I was watching it, the film had a few red flags for me and I checked out the information about the movie and apparently this was a mockumentary.

Anyway, I kept on with it because a lot of (definitely not all) what one of the main characters was going through is what I could be going through very soon.

The film follows three teachers and an assistant principal. One of the teachers is brand new, the other two have been at it for a couple of years, and the assistant principal has just moved from teaching to this position.

I immediately focused on the brand new teacher. He was lost. He had no classroom management and the students controlled the classroom. He also didn't seem as prepared as one should be - especially when you are walking in on the first day of school.

His was the most important storyline in the film - and probably the most realistic as well. Another teacher's main focus was not really on being a teacher, but winning teacher of the year. It seemed pretty ridiculous and as a teacher he seemed buddy-buddy with his students (which is ok to a point) but I wasn't seeing too much teaching in his classroom.

The final teacher is best friends with the new assistant principal and she is hoping that now the teachers will have a voice on administration. But, things don't go as planned and the two fight more than hang out. She is also a bit of a disciplinarian and health nut - so much so that she scolds the other teachers if they let things slide.

If this was a full-on documentary I would have been much more interested, but it wasn't and even as I thought it was going in I could tell something was up. The one teacher's storyline was still interesting and useful for new teachers while the others were a bit more over the top - at least for me.

Still, it was a decent and quick watch at just about 85 minutes long. So give it a try - especially for the new teacher aspect.



  1. Yeah... I watched this right before I started my first year last year. That was a mistake... my nerves shot up like crazy.

    My year was like a mix of the "new guy" teacher and the "buddy buddy" teacher. I tried to be too friendly with the students, and that turned out to give me a classroom like the new teacher. They didn't care and they walked all over me.

    One aspect that was highly unrealistic from the new teacher's story is how he was able to turn the class around after half the year had gone by. I didn't know that at the time I saw it, but after my first year was over and looking back at the movie now, it's more obvious. It's pretty impossible to get control over your classroom once you've lost it, especially when you hadn't had it for that long of an amount of time.

    Though it wasn't a true documentary, it was based on real events. The creators of the movie were real teachers (at some point, anyway) and they pulled from actual experiences.

  2. Yeah, that was one of the main reasons that I wanted to watch it. I wanted to see the different aspects of a first year teacher and how they handled it.

    Like I said, I felt the first year guy was pretty believable for the most part. I think the did take liberties with him gaining control in the same year - usually it may be in the second year that you get some sort of control after you learn from the mistakes - but it was a movie.

    Glad someone else had seen it.