A Tribe Called Quest

If It’s Not About The Students, It’s Not About Me

Jose Vilson Jose 1 Comment

A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest

Yesterday, I interpolated A Tribe Called Quest’s “Check The Rhime” in the hopes of conveying the point that I’m simultaneously trying to point out the sullied nature of adult relationships in schools, but also trying to bring an authenticity to my praxis. There’s far too much jargon and circumlocution coming into schools that it’s no wonder why neither outside observers nor teachers actually care too much about actual progress. What people propose as progress often turns into a confused version of things we’ve already been doing (think about the latest definitions of differentiation). Plus, people often get so caught up in upending the next person in intellectual ranking that their verbalisms make less critical thinkers believe they’re actually reflective about their practice.

How about no?

How about we not tolerate it anymore? How about we only namedrop when giving credit to someone for an idea rather than namedropping for the sake of saying “Did you read the groundbreaking research by …?” knowing that next person probably didn’t because they’re not invested in the rubbish? How about we actually talk about the classroom and make sure everything we as teachers do reflects what’s happening in there rather than the extras? For that matter, how about we look at the classroom as more than just an enigma but a set of people who we actually have a deep effect on? I know I don’t have just teachers reading this, so please replace whatever you have to in order to make it about the effect you have on :: gasp :: PEOPLE.

Right around 3 months ago, when I started hearing the rumors and innuendo, I decided to reaffirm my reason for even teaching to begin with, because no matter what I’m doing at this juncture, I’m all about the people. Any effort to self-aggrandize falls flat in my eyes. Any effort to dissuade me from my students’ cause won’t hold in my court. I’m so unequivocal about this pronunciation, I go hard whenever I hear anything that seems averse to actual and real education of our children, and that’s where latest work takes me.

I’m dedicating this blog more closely to documenting my day-to-day as a young Black-Latino male Lower East Sider teaching in the Heights. I can’t promise anything else or anything less. On a professional level, I won’t be mentioning names of anyone I work with, students included. I certainly won’t be describing specific events, though I have the right to mention the ideas behind these events and the way I saw them. But when it comes to how I interact with the students, I’ll have an openness about these interaction hoping that I’m simultaneously being reflective and active in learning how to interact with my own students.

Every so often, if the wind draws me, I’ll talk about a current topic, knowing in my mind, it’s framing my thinking about how I approach what happens in the classroom. In other blogs, you get both extremes: both who strictly focus on what happens in the classroom and “edu-techery” and those who focus on the politics of this school industrial complex (did I say that out loud?). I read these blogs almost daily and have built good relationships with said type of blogs, but this school year, I need to push myself to let those stories come more into the fore.

Maybe someone out there’s just starting and has no means of getting real social-emotional professional development at their school (teachers / administrators / school personnel need that). Maybe someone’s been doing this for a long time, but needs another quick kick in the pants (looks at the mirror). Or maybe someone’s just reading this to get ideas about how it affects their own field. Whatever you choose to read this blog for, know that this blog will reflect Mr. Vilson as much as Jose, if not more, and on any given day, either of those two may also be Any Child Left Behind.

That is to say, if it’s it’s not about the students, it’s not about me.

Jose, who’s getting ready for Mr. Vilson again …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 1

  1. NYC Educator

    So what’s it all about,? I’m really put off by people who feel it’s impressive to use educational jargon, and those who replace last year’s trendy notions with this year’s, with no thought as to why either is better or worse. Unfortunately a lot of those people actually run the city school system.

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