The Mitchell 20 Didn’t Wait for Superman

I've read a ton of reviews lately of The Mitchell 20 — a remarkable education documentary film driven by my good friend Kathy Wiebke that details the efforts of a group of 20 teachers in a high-poverty Phoenix elementary school to change the lives of their students by changing their own practice.

I guess I'm struggling to find the right words to explain how powerful the film is.

That's why I was so jazzed to find a comment from a teacher named Jill Saia on Nancy Flanagan's review of The Mitchell 20. 

Jill wrote:

My faculty and I can't wait to see The Mitchell 20; for some reason we feel that we are living the same story right now.

Like Mitchell, we are NOT waiting for superman; we are digging in, collborating, and working very long hours to improve our students and ourselves.

In the end, that's the BEST summary for The Mitchell 20:  It is the story of a group of teachers who collectively recognize that waiting for superman is a strategy that is failing our poorest students.

 It is the story of a group of teachers who recognize that super powers really do rest somewhere deep within every teacher who takes up the challenge of working in our highest needs communities.

It is the story of what one group of colleagues can do when they decide to fight back by studying their practice collectively with one another—even when their backs are against the wall and they're working in forgotten communities.

I won't lie: The Mitchell 20 made me wet in the eyes more than once simply because it is the story of passion and service and professionalism and need and hope all wrapped into one.

And I needed that. 

Surrounded by failed policies, destructive policymakers, and constant attacks, I've started to doubt that our public schools — and more importantly, children in our poorest communities — REALLY have a chance.

What The Mitchell 20 reminded me is that as long as there are teachers with a heart for children and a determination to study their craft together — and as long as we are politically willing to get out of their way — there is ALWAYS a chance for EVERY child in EVERY community.

That's a message we ALL need to hear.

Here's the trailer:

 

 

 

When are YOU going to see the whole film?

More importantly, when are YOU going to forward the trailer to YOUR local school board members, state representives, or federal legislators?

This isn't a film that they can afford to miss if we really care about EVERY child.

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Related Radical Reads:

Are YOUR Kids Living a Silent War?

Are High-Poverty Schools Just Another Debate?

Does ANYONE Love Public Schools?

Lessons Learned from the LeBronathon

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “The Mitchell 20 Didn’t Wait for Superman

  1. Mia

    Being a teacher myself, we are trained very well for all situations we may intale, but it is different being trained and actually having to put actions into place.

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    That blindfolded, you can not see the world; that covered his ears, you can not hear all of the trouble; that the footsteps stopped, the heart can no longer travel; think I need love, just a to embrace.

  3. Daniela A. Robles

    Bill,
    Thank you for sharing the story of Mitchell 20. Just imagine if all of us dug in deep and combined our super powers…I believe that Mitchell 20 can empower all of us to squash the notion of “Waiting for Superman.” It is time to speak the truth about education in America.
    Daniela A. Robles

  4. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Ginny,
    Good to see you again!
    To answer your question, the majority of the leadership in Mitchell Elementary started from one teacher who earned Board Certification and then encouraged her peers to follow her through the process.
    So no—it didn’t START with principals or district level leaders.
    The principal at Mitchell DID however recognize just how powerful this experience had the potential to be early on—and she took concrete steps (in the form of redirecting a ton of federal money to pay for teachers to do TAKE 1 projects) to support her staff.
    The heartbreaking end to the story, though, is that the district office—for reasons that aren’t fully explained—reassigned both the teacher leader and the principal to other schools.
    They said that they wanted to have talent in every building. Mitchell’s argument was that they wanted to keep their core of committed teachers together.
    It got so ugly that the Mitchell principal resigned in protest.
    Really interesting stuff that has a bad smell about it—like the district felt threatened by these teachers who wanted to own their own practice and thought they could change without the help of the “higher ups.”
    Definitely a movie worth seeing—there’s actually a screening in Chapel Hill in about 2 weeks at the Varsity Theater.
    http://www.mitchell20.com/events/
    Hope this helps,
    Bill

  5. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Ginny,
    Good to see you again!
    To answer your question, the majority of the leadership in Mitchell Elementary started from one teacher who earned Board Certification and then encouraged her peers to follow her through the process.
    So no—it didn’t START with principals or district level leaders.
    The principal at Mitchell DID however recognize just how powerful this experience had the potential to be early on—and she took concrete steps (in the form of redirecting a ton of federal money to pay for teachers to do TAKE 1 projects) to support her staff.
    The heartbreaking end to the story, though, is that the district office—for reasons that aren’t fully explained—reassigned both the teacher leader and the principal to other schools.
    They said that they wanted to have talent in every building. Mitchell’s argument was that they wanted to keep their core of committed teachers together.
    It got so ugly that the Mitchell principal resigned in protest.
    Really interesting stuff that has a bad smell about it—like the district felt threatened by these teachers who wanted to own their own practice and thought they could change without the help of the “higher ups.”
    Definitely a movie worth seeing—there’s actually a screening in Chapel Hill in about 2 weeks at the Varsity Theater.
    http://www.mitchell20.com/events/
    Hope this helps,
    Bill

  6. Ginnyp

    Very curious to see this film. My comment: It doesn’t surprise that TEACHERS knew what to do and took action. Did their administrators approve it first?

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