Plot: Follows the insanely typical school year of three inexperienced public educators and one first-year vice principal
I believe that a large bulk of this was entirely improvised by students and teachers at a real school somewhere in Texas, and it's amazing how well they pull it off. Great ensemble cast. The Office-like mockumentary does a good job showing the nuances of the profession and the daily combination of humor and funk. I smiled watching rookie mistakes, a lot which I made my first few years (see setting up students only to watch them call the bluff) and some which I've made recently (see the hurling of desks). And seeing the despair on the completely inept, first-year teacher Mr. L. was heartbreaking. So much of this is believable that it just had have been scripted by teachers--interaction with parents, interaction with peers who are a bit too straight-shootin', interaction with students who just don't want to be there. Some scenes which stretched too long (the slang spelling bee) and some scenes that seemed completely out of place (what's a dream sequence doing in a documentary?), but the documentary format worked well and allowed the individual stories to meander and keep things episodic and fresh. Occasionally, there was a dip into the overly sentimental, but the characters never seem to ask the audience to feel sorry for them and the funny, mostly unpredictable script worked throughout. And I still can't believe how real the (I guess) real students looked--so authentic in their apathy and dismal expressions.
Favorite line (paraphrased): "How are you going to staple 30 tests without a stapler? You can't!" Favorite snippet just might have been when the vice principal sat down at a piano and sang, "You can teach if you want to. You can leave no child behind" to the tune of Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance."
Here's somebody who often wishes he did something else for a living watching Chalk: