Have You Achieved Success at Success at Success? [A Reflection On My Own TDR]

Jose Vilson Education, Resources

Some of you might be asking, “But Jose, isn’t your data in the public view? Aren’t you afraid that your job is on the line somehow?” Sure. On Saturday, after seeing the report in the New York Post, I started to see the scores of my fellow teachers in the building and thinking, “This can’t be life.” Thus, Biggie’s Ready to Die played in heavy rotation on my iPod while I thought of ways to self-sooth, as if the deluge of misinformation would eat away of my healthy status as a contributing member of the education community. Without my fiancee’s intervention, I’d have a harder time jumping out of the temporary funk.

Suffice it to say, I wasn’t happy that the New York Post had published this erroneous data so liberally (see what I did there?). It’s par for course for a rag that consistently publishes soft porn and racist cartoons and puts hundreds of their papers at the doorsteps of our schools. Their nerve is only surpassed by an administration that shouldn’t have created the reports to start. Thus, it’s only right that the same Post decided to publicly humiliate a teacher with no rhyme or reason, possibly for their own shits and giggles.

Disclaimer: Here are five quick reasons why you shouldn’t believe any of it (besides the ones I stated on Thursday.)

Never mind that. You came to see some sort of testimonial on these numbers.

I’m leery about providing too many details on that here. On the way back from getting some Rockports for my teacher-weary feet, I realized something. If these scores have me judged against my peers of similar experience and demographics, I have some news for them: half my peers have already left the profession. Indeed, a third of my peers left by the first couple of years, and exactly half my peers left two years ago. In my seventh year, my peers have started to look for corporate jobs, jobs in third party vendors, or administration. Out of those of us who are left, we probably see our jobs as careers. These is the set of professional teachers that will teach children for the next couple of decades (2030, even).

How can we expect teachers to want to stay in a profession that doesn’t want to respect them or want them to be successful by a fair measure?

Why would you judge me on a fairer measure than a snapshot, knowing full well that only a third of my students have been taken into account for the scores? Why would you get at me so hard after I just started teaching and don’t believe in drilling my students with how to fill in bubbles? Why would you accost me with this after knowing I teach students who have learning disabilities, have special accommodations for learning, speak limited English, and have a myriad of issues I don’t excuse, but can’t control? If you really want your best and passionate teachers in the classrooms where we need them most, why humiliate the only teachers who would jump headfirst into this situations?

While certain people are in the business of education, I’m actually educating. Huge difference.

But people like Steve Perry or any of his acolytes might reprimand me by saying I’m just an adult looking out for my own job rather than educating youth. Sure, we’re speaking to the media, organizing with (and without) our union, developing our own blogs and radio stations, learning about social media, and asking for a contract (NYC teachers are working without one right now). Yet, we’re also about our kids. There is no contradiction there. Since so much of our job entails sacrifice, don’t we deserve the ability to negotiate some terms about our job?

Because that’s what professionals do.

Before the All Star Game started, Richard Branson asked Kobe Bryant about success in the latest installment of the “Kobe System” commercial series. Branson asserts that he had already achieved success at success. He had been underwater, in space, and everywhere in between, to which Kobe said, “You’re welcome.” Perplexed, Branson then asks, “What comes next? What’s after success at success?” Naturally, Kobe explains that there is a success at success at success. Disappointed in himself, Branson then says, “You’re right, I haven’t achieved that.” No matter where teachers are in the spectrum of success, we always want to do our jobs better and find the next level of success. Even if all of our students do well, we want to see if there’s another level where they can repeat that success.

In other words, we’re professionals. We don’t need the Post up our asses trying to find what drives us. I’ve only now begun to succeed.

Mr. Vilson, who can’t wait to get back to class tomorrow, despite myself …