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It’s Just Different [The Three Vilsons]

Jose Vilson Jose 2 Comments

I have another confession: I’m still working with a few different Vilsons here.

People assume that by now I’ve closed the gap between the Vilson that works for school and the one that writes in this blog. I wouldn’t say I’m suffering from multiple personality disorder, but let me expound a bit. Recently, someone asked me, in essence, to merge these entities I have into one image I can use at school. I stared blankly at first, but then I gave it about a split-second of a thought. Within that second, I asked myself if my current school is an appropriate setting for this fusion of the very public and vociferous me (who some refer to as TheJLV), the very private and intimate me (Jose for short), and the teacher and instructional coach working to improve his students’ academic futures (Mr. Vilson if you must). In spots, I have certainly let out the other personas; I’ve danced at conferences, exchanged jokes with colleagues, and sung in spaces people normally don’t.

But at school? Split-second over. No. Hell no.

Teacher leaders in most schools ought to heed the words of James Baldwin, who would have been 88 today), when he said, “The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” I would add that the more you start to believe you can become more personal, the more you need to maintain a safe distance. Sometimes, people mistake the professional and the personal sides of you, make their judgments, and take it out on both sides.

Naw, I’m good.

With all the opportunities I’ve been blessed with to grow outside of school, I would prefer not to say too much about this life there, much like I don’t tell too much about this life here. Come to think of it, the classroom and the blog are two spaces where I feel the most passionate, most successful, and often the most disappointment. As much as I’ve celebrated in both of these places, I still have a long ways to go before I’m satisfied with either.

Oh, and I wouldn’t want either to be disrupted by people who don’t understand what I’m doing.

I mean, it’s just different.

Jose, who knows better.

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 2

  1. Dan Willingham

    Jose
    Interesting piece, as always.
    Prompts me to think about new teachers. At the college level, this need for distance is usually hard for new profs to see, and it’s hard to explain to them.
    Question: do you see this as a major challenge for new teachers, or is it something that most figure out pretty quickly? To what extent does training in schools of ed help with this?

    1. Post
      Author
      Jose

      Yes it is. I think that goes with any place of business, but especially in schools where we’re asked to be more like a family. Unfortunately, people confuse that with getting too personal. I’ve veered more towards the professional side (almost to a fault), but it’s meant that I don’t get caught up in the ugly side of things. Some figure it out vey quickly, but others only figure it out when it actually does get ugly.

      I think there ought to be at least a small portion of schools of education that discusses etiquette and appropriate behaviors in schools. Maybe I’ll save that for a post later on in the week, but it’s the truth. Thanks for your comment, Dan.

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