It's My Fault - The Jose Vilson

It’s My Fault

July 30, 2009

My Bad

My Bad

This week, I’ve been given even more time to reflect on my practice as an educator / writer / everything else, and more often than not, I’ve felt a certain sense of confidence in my ability to teach effectively by many measures including, but not exclusive to, administrators’ observations, conversations with fellow educators, and my students’ feedback. Most of it has been positive and I’ve only increased the amount of support for me as a person with the previous weeks’ school trainings (especially when I was the facilitator of these trainings). This GE educational conference I’m attending has also given me access and a platform for my own voice with different participants in the local and national communities of learning, and my own thoughts seem to make sense to people. In short, I’m feeling good about myself as an educator.

Yet, a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Ratliffe asked his followers this poignant question:

How much do we blame ourselves for what happens with our students?

And I said,

All. The. Time.

Frankly, I’m not as organized as I’d like to be. I’m not always good with classroom management. I try to do my best with homework collection, but I’m not as consistent. I can always work on checking tests more effectively. I can incorporate more materials and visuals into my math so my ELLs can have more ways to represent their solutions. Sometimes, I have a a hard time reaching my students in ways I thought I was gifted at. I let some things get too personal, sometimes. I let whatever is going on in the school taint what happens in my classroom sometimes. I use too much chalk. I depend too much on my content knowledge to get me through the rough days when I can’t / don’t lesson plan. I go to sleep too late.

I’m far too hard on myself.

Hearing people like Carl Cohn and Michael Rutherford really inspired me to think more deeply about my own profession, wondering how every so often, it’s easy to fall into a rut in the teaching profession. Every so often, we need to have these discussions on different social networks, in conferences, and even as part of a larger national discussion through TV, etc (nevermind our blogs) in order to keep the battery up. It’s so hard for people who manage people to manage oneself. And I’m sure people like Carl, Chad, and Michael don’t really care to have their name mentioned behind someone’s getting inspired (though I’m sure they don’t mind), but more than anything, the work is really what speaks for itself.

And that’s where I land whenever I jump into this silo of reflection. I always land safely because I remember why I’m doing the work I’m doing and why I speak the way I do and who I associate myself with. I blame myself so much because it’s about the children. I don’t do this blaming to an unhealthy degree, but it’s enough where I’m not satisfied with my habits or lack thereof, and I’m not happy with only knowing a sliver of what I should know about my students.

Maybe that’s what the edubabblers mean by life-long learners. I should have known. My bad.

Jose, who can’t believe he went how many days without writing a post?

This post was written by...

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.

For more about me, read here.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Aaron July 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm

You’re only one man, and you can’t be superman. Do what you can, and you certainly do more than most by reaching out to your teaching peers, blogging about the status quo, and fighting for the educational rights of your students.

Don’t trip over the lack of blog posts, you are on a “vacation” of sorts. You’re doing well compared to some of us that go a whole year without writing a blog post… ahem.

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Hugh O'Donnell July 31, 2009 at 12:29 am

Hey Jose, let your reflections uplift you.

I heard Dylan Wiliam speak earlier this month in Portland at the ETS/ATI Summer Assessment for Learning Conference, and he was all about teachers building on strengths and letting weaknesses wither rather than trying to eradicate them.

Keep on keeping on. You’ll be a legend eventually. ;)

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NYC Educator July 31, 2009 at 11:18 pm

I don’t know, Jose. Using too much chalk? That’s hard to forgive.

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chanel August 2, 2009 at 12:33 pm

You can’t do everything Jose. Plus, people like to ride on our teachers to provide for the children but in truth, how are the children going to learn without the support & attention from the parents at home?

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