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The First Year

3.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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(Apr 27, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Winner of numerous awards including the prestigious Peabody, this powerful and moving film is a "must-see" for anyone who is, or has ever thought of becoming a parent or teacher. The film chronicles the first year of five young teachers as they fight the

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A deceptively simple documentary, The First Year follows five teachers in California through the first year of their teaching careers. The teachers are a diverse lot, teaching different ages and classes at five different schools, but what remains consistent are the difficulties they face and the determination they bring to it. Though The First Year is partly a recruiting effort that hopes to persuade more people to pursue teaching, the movie doesn't avoid the problems teachers face, from bureaucratic stumbling blocks (one teacher can't get her own classroom; an ESL program faces being defunded) to the kids themselves, who can be as angry and frustrated as the teachers, often for reasons the teachers are helpless to change. At times, the passion and empathy these five teachers demonstrate is profoundly moving--not because they're performing great feats, but because of the simple, small acts of faith that so rarely get made. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Bonus film: Teach
  • Teacher commentary tracks
  • Teacher profiles
  • Epilogue with teacher commentary
  • "How to Get Involved" booklet

Product Details

  • Actors: Georgene Acosta, Geneviève DeBose, Joy Kraft-Watts, Nate Monley, Maurice Rabb
  • Directors: Davis Guggenheim
  • Producers: Davis Guggenheim, Jill Murphy, Joanna Friedman, Julia Schachter, Kheshgi
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: April 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001HAIEA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,529 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The First Year" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 4, 2004
Format: DVD
The First Year is a wonderful documentary that shows the daily struggles of public school teachers in the face of apathetic administrations, parents, and students. As a teacher in the state of California this film strengthened my own resolve to be the best educator I can. At the same time the film also illustrates the break down of the public school system. The notes with this disc states that The First Year was "created to recruit and retain the next generation of teachers."In some ways I think this film will scare teachers off because of the way some of the teachers are treated by the school's administration.In any case I think this should be required viewing by any school board members, teachers, and civil servants in national and state goverments.
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By Dee on October 16, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I don't own this product (yet), but it was shown in one of my teacher certification classes. I was really inspired by how much the teachers were willing to sacrifice to make sure their students had at least the opportunity to succeed. However, I was saddened that they HAD to give so much because often the district/administration wasn't doing its part. The documentary showed teaching in a very realistic light rather than the "oh, well they get weekends and summers off" light that many people think of it as. This video was shown in a class of 23 potential teachers and I really think it strengthened our resolve to become teachers.

Update===

I now own this DVD and have been teaching for almost five years and can say that this film does a great job of depicting the frustrations of rookie teachers and the obstacles teachers have to overcome just to do their jobs. If you're considering becoming a teacher, I would definitely recommend buying this movie to get a realistic idea of what you're getting into.

[...]
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Format: DVD
"The First Year" was not an easy film to watch. It highlights the real challenges first year teachers face when they want so badly to educate youth, especially in a low income area where resources are scarce, to say the least. We see automobile repair shops turned into makeshift classrooms; teachers who don't even get to have their own classrooms; apathetic parents who don't show up for meetings with their children's teachers even when they know their children are not performing well in school; and how both politics and a speech therapist who almost never showed up for her appointments with one child can nearly ruin one teacher's quest to find speech therapy for one of the kids in his classroom.

The film moves along at just about the right pace; I was never bored. These poignant, human stories grabbed my attention and never let it go until the end of the film. I agree with other reviewers who write that this film would be an excellent resource for people learning how to be teachers and not just an exposé of how we need to provide better education to all of our youth.

The DVD comes with a few extra features. I like the epilogue with tis information about what happened to the teachers and some of the children alike; and there is a very well done short entitled "Teach." There are optional teacher running commentaries as well.

I highly recommend "The First Year" for people learning how to be teachers so they will know what they may well be up against should they decide to teach in a low income area with a paucity of resources; and those of us interested in the subject of quality education in general would do well to add this to their collections.
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Format: DVD
Just rented this from Netflix and it moved me to tears. I see negative reviews on here and to me they've missed the point. Sure these first year teachers might not be equipped right from the start but you can tell those kids were impacted in a very good, significant way from having these instructors in their lives. I know I could never teach. It is an important job that our society doesn't value anywhere near as much as it should. I did a little facebook poking around and it looks like all but one of these teachers is still at it a dozen years later. I applaud them and their skills. And obviously this filmmaker has gone on to grander things as well!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I used this for my introduction to teaching class. Excellent view into the first year of a teacher.
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Format: DVD
The First Year (2001) directed by Davis Guggenheim seems like a very realistic documentary. This movie overviewed the difficulties teachers can have during their first year of teaching. It addressed problems such as ill-behaved students and under budgeted programs. The documentary follows the lives of five teachers beginning their careers in California at inner city schools. They all taught elementary grades except for one who taught ESL to older kids, perhaps Junior High. One thing that they all had in common though was their passion to be invested in each child’s life. They were all extremely devoted to their class, especially the students who had behavior issues.
Two teachers, the male teachers, stood out to me the most. One of them, Mr. Rabb, a kindergarten teacher, was particularly dedicated to Tyquan, a student who needed speech therapy. Mr. Rabb did everything he could to get Tyquan the help he needed. He constantly tried connecting with the school speech therapist (which never turned into a regular thing). He called different hospitals to figure out where Tyquan could go for therapy that was covered by Medicaid. In the end, since the parents were uninvolved, Mr. Rabb began tutoring Tyquan after school himself.
Like Mr. Rabb, I found it inspiring how willing the teachers were to do home visits if necessary. Many parents were not interested in showing up for appointments or coming to conferences, so these teachers went to their students’ homes when it was necessary to get the parents in the loop.
This movie was lacking in a main focus though. I felt like the struggles demonstrated in the film, could’ve been struggles of any teacher with experience. The struggles were not unique to a first-year.
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