North Carolina documentary hopes to open dialogue on what it really means to be a teacher

The+subject+of+the+documentary+film%2C+high+school+teacher+Angela+Scioli%2C+hosts+a+workshop+with+other+teachers+on+teaching+methods.
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North Carolina documentary hopes to open dialogue on what it really means to be a teacher

The subject of the documentary film, high school teacher Angela Scioli, hosts a workshop with other teachers on teaching methods.

The subject of the documentary film, high school teacher Angela Scioli, hosts a workshop with other teachers on teaching methods.

The subject of the documentary film, high school teacher Angela Scioli, hosts a workshop with other teachers on teaching methods.

The subject of the documentary film, high school teacher Angela Scioli, hosts a workshop with other teachers on teaching methods.

Casey McAnarney | News Editor

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The expectations of teachers is heavily influenced by film and media, according to two North Carolina documentarists who showed their documentary Teacher of the Year to education majors at UNC Wilmington last week.

When asked what need there was for this documentary, one of the documentarists on the film and North Carolina high school teacher Robert Phillips said that “the need to dispel myth about what education is and to show through [our subject’s] performance and story what teachers can actually be.”

In the 20 minutes or so shown to UNCW education majors as the first part of the documentary, the film explored how film and media create unrealistic and high expectations of not only what teachers can do but what the experience of teaching is like.

The film used examples of classic movies like Dead Poets Society and Freedom Writers in which the teacher is not representative of the real life profession.

“Teachers in real life are not outsiders [like they are in these movies],” explained Phillips. “[Real teachers] are usually lampooned in Hollywood.”

Phillips also went on to explain how one of the experts they interviewed, UNC School of Education Associate Professor Dr. James Trier, “hates Dead Poet Society because it is borderline malpractice.”

In real life, according to Phillips, a teacher could not force a boy to stand at the front of the room and face his fears as Robin William’s character did in Dead Poets Society. Though that scene is rather inspiring and seductive, situations like those could “blow up in [those teacher’s] faces” as said by Phillips.

The video that they showed to UNCW students, however, also showed the documentaries subject, Raleigh high school teacher Angela Scioli, in order to display what real teaching looks like.

In the case of Scioli, making Youtube videos and facilitating group activities in order to help her students understand her lessons goes into everyday teaching methods rather than the gimmicks usually seen in film.

And with the film still in the editing stage, Phillips and his co- director Jason Korreck said that they have set ideas for the rest of the film and plan to be done with the documentary at some point this year.

“We hope to show next the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year,” said Korreck. “In the course of that school year many significant events happen in [Scioli’s] life and we document them all.”

Korreck explains how Scioli becomes involved in the fight for teacher’s rights that occurred around 2013 by creating her own non- profit organization called Red 4 Ed. She also will be shown doing tasks for school outside of the classroom, which are not typically shown in film.

“There is a cost that comes to this dedication [to teaching],” Phillips. “She rebounds but she struggles even to this day [and you see that in the documentary].”

After screening their film, Phillips and Korreck opened up the room to discuss with students and faculty alike the implications of such high expectations on teachers.

The main focus of showing their film to UNCW education majors was to open a dialogue about this issue. Phillips and Korreck hope to continue screening this documentary with other education departments at universities as well as submit the final product to film festivals.