New Interactive Project Aims To Document the Important Work of Teachers

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Teachers have a chance to get involved early on, in a unique project that ultimately will result in a documentary film highlighting the important work of educators in the classroom as well as the challenges they face every day. Although it's called "The Teacher Salary Project," the undertaking is about much more than addressing the need to pay teachers more competitive wages. The project's creators—including best-selling author Dave Eggers and award-winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth—want to compile what they call "the only digital archive of teachers' stories about teaching."

That's where you come in. There are a couple of ways for AFT members to contribute to the project at this point. First, the creators are looking for three teachers to become the central "characters" in the film. During the coming school year, the filmmakers will follow those teachers as they face "dramatic challenges, powerful struggles, difficult sacrifices or all of the above—all in order to keep teaching." Send e-mails about promising candidates—yourself or a colleague—to casting@theTeacherSalaryProject.org.

In addition to the three featured teachers, the project is collecting teachers' stories on video. "Start a video journal, tell us why you became a teacher, share a story about your life as a teacher or what sacrifices you make to be able to afford to teach, and what keeps you committed to public education," they suggest. An example of a young teacher's video diary is on the project's YouTube channel. For now, you can go to the Teacher Salary Project YouTube Channel, watch one of the videos, and then join the conversation by clicking "post video response." Eventually, users will be able to create their own Teacher Salary Project accounts and post videos directly to the project Web site. Plans are also under way to post videos from artists, writers and musicians in support of teachers and improved public education.

July 29, 2008