If You Teach Them, They Will Come

Jose Vilson Education


I know I might lose a few subscribers off what I’m going to say, but fu … gettabotit:

1. I don’t do pair testing; it’s just too weird for me.

2. Homeroom is very necessary for children who never have any other source of stability in their lives.

3. It’s important for teachers to inspire as well as elevate our kids’ thinking, by any means necessary … and plausible.

When I look at the various teachers on my floor, I see a range of experiences, and with that, a range of classroom management / discipline styles. One thing that they all have in common is their love for teaching. Most of us come in understanding our roles as molders of young minds, and not just static figures from 8am – 3pm. Some of us are more practical, focusing on the actual job and not worried about whether the kids remember you or not. The problem with that, and I’ve found this especially true over the last few years of teaching, they always remember.


Especially with middle school, because these are their formative years. Just when you think you don’t have a grip on them, you get that little feedback you need to reinvigorate you. Teachers who’ve been in the system for at least 3 years have enough stories to last them more than a few rounds of beers. For instance, I had this one girl who many of us saw as such an airhead. For a good 6 months of her 8th grade career, most of us were under the impression that she was far too infatuated with boys to tap her potential. She was bright to no end, even earning high scores on her math and ELA tests. Then, for 3 straight months, she finally showed us how hard she could work and eventually graduated, ditzy personality intact, and left the school without a trace.

She stayed in the back of my mind because I always used to see her friends around, and wondered if she ever made something of herself. Then, this year, when I logged onto my teacher MySpace (yes I have one of those and no you can’t see), I noticed a strange bulletin from her. It was about our school. At first, I was expecting one of those typical “I hate my former school” bulletins, but as I kept reading, she really seemed to enjoy her 8th grade year. And guess who she put down as her favorite teacher? Me. Yeah, my jaw dropped at that very moment. I definitely messaged her back with a thanks. Truly humbled.

And that’s just a tidbit of the love I’ve received from my kids. I still get visits from my alum, even when I least expect it. People drop me messages, post stuff on my door, and even try to run into me before I go to school. For one reason or another, I have an amazing rapport with them, while never sacrificing my academic rigor. They always come back with stories about how easy freshman year math is. Granted, some of them do come back telling me that, despite that, they’re still not doing well because of whatever personal problems they were going through. It’s probably the saddest part of the job. I’ve seen the triumphs and the defeats first-hand. Sometimes I wish I could do something about it like reach out and help my former student out.

But the most I can do is pack as much learning as possible in one year (if you’re lucky, 2), and hope they learn something directly about math, but implicitly about life. I have a captive audience, I might as well give it all I got. I can proudly say I provide an answer to the question “What if you had a 12-year-old’s ear for just a second? What would you do?”

What do you think? As an educator, do you find it important if not worthwhile to inspire your children or young adults? Let me know in the box.

jose, who loves it when kids ask questions like “Have you ever farted so hard, you shiver?” after class …

p.s. – After reminding him how to convert degrees to radians on MySpace, one of my alums wrote me tonight,

“oo ok thanks man…i wish i had a teacher like u now…all these wakk teachers in highschool…wish i had some1 to tell me 2 shut up…lmao”