The release of the Mitchell 20 documentary this month has prompted many interpretations as to the true subject of the film. Some audience members stated that the film made them question the equity of voice in education, while others revealed that the teachers at Mitchell were treated unfairly and some just thought it was only about National Board Certification.
My take on the film is a little different. I see many parallels in the lives of the Mitchell 20 and my own. In the film, many of them share their personal life stories; some of them reveal that they are immigrants or first generation Americans. They share their struggles as young learners and the commitment they have to their students.
As a first generation American, I understand the challenge of straddling two worlds, two languages and two sets of standards. Growing up in a predominantly Hispanic community in Miami, I didn’t really know what I was missing; I spoke the language but did not understand the nuances of the culture or how to be part of the group. There were some gaps and I knew that I had to work harder to prove that I too could have a place at the table.
The resiliency that I share with the Mitchell teachers comes from a similar conviction for proving that we too are highly skilled, valuable and worthy of joining the educational conversation. I cannot speak for the Mitchell 20 but I know that pursuing National Board Certification was a way of proving to myself that I do have what it takes to be an excellent teacher and a teacher leader. I suspect that some of the teachers at Mitchell might feel this way as well.