Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim can't stop telling stories about the world of public education. Just three years ago he directed Waiting for Superman, a controversial spin on the nation's public schools and what ails them. Prior to "Superman," Guggenheim filmed and directed The First Year, a PBS-television special that followed five teachers who were brand new to the profession. He's back again with TEACH, a CBS-television special and year-long social media campaign run by Participant Media and Teach.org. This time mission is to "elevate and promote the profession of teachers."
This week on Bloomberg Radio's Bloomberg EDU with Jane Williams, Guggenheim discusses what it takes to be an effective teacher today and his hopes for his children. "It would be the happiest day of my life," says Guggenheim, "if my son or daughter came to me and said, 'Dad, I want to be a teacher.'"
We also hear from teachers Derek Thomas, H.B. Plant High School, Tampa, Florida, Dan Tobin, Rindge Avenue Upper School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Abby Morton-Garland, who teaches history by morning and is an assistant principal by afternoon at KIPP University Prep in San Antonio, Texas. They discuss their classrooms, school leadership and why they teach.
"The hardest part is just -- some days, you come home and you just feel like you've completely failed the kids," says Dan Tobin.
"And the next day you come in, and you feel like the greatest teacher in the world."
Teaching can be hard.
Davis Guggenheim discussion highlights
On what it takes to be a good teacher
"...That will to get better. And if you're going to get better, you've got to be self-reflective. You gotta be constantly learning."
On teacher development
"...You watch these teachers get better. You watch them hit the wall...And then you see them figure out how to get better."
On what's changed since "Waiting for Superman"
"I think a lot of people have started to second guess our obsession with tests and test results ... you see firsthand what it's like to have teachers who really want the best results but also want to be measured in a fair way."
"...After Waiting for Superman... I wanted people to wake up to the [public education] crisis that we're having."
"And now, I want people to really focus on what works [in public education]...great teachers work."
On teacher support
"...they can't do it alone... I don't know any job you do alone. But ... a lot of teachers do it alone. And that's, that's a problem."
On teachers and the job
"I'm in admiration of what they do."
On whether or not his children will become teachers
"It would be the happiest day of my life, Jane, if my son or daughter came to me and said, 'Dad, I want to be a teacher.' ...They can find something that makes them money. That may or may not happen. But I'm more worried about them having a job that gives their life meaning."