Love and Hate, Sorta (It’s Only Been Two Days)

Jose Vilson Education, Featured, Jose

“Vilson, tu si ere malo!”

It was the most random comment. For whatever reason, middle school students crack me up. Perhaps a large part of their being necessitates testing limits within the first few days of getting to know a teacher. Perhaps they insist that the first two days don’t mean much, so giving anything more than the usual rules speech or index card distribution is doing too much. Perhaps my easier demeanor relative to prior years opened up my students up to get a different vibe from me than prior students.

But I’ve never heard more students make a love / hate determination on the first two days of school than with this year.

I have three seventh grade classes, two eighth grade classes, all with different personalities individually and collectively. The students are still adjusting to the adults, and I’m throwing them off-balance with my self-effacing comments and high expectations (“not just eighth grade, but the first year of high school”).

Summer learning loss might be real, but my teacher look is still on point. I employed over the course of the first and second day with speed. I let out a smile every so often, but my eyes were just sharp enough to keep the classes moving. Amazing.

My students have all these awesome names. There’s one in particular that I had to learn from the student 15 times. I’ve been practicing it all weekend and I’m hoping it’s sharp by tomorrow. Sidenote: I probably shook a few when I rolled the r’s in some of their names, too. They’ll be even more surprised when I call their parents.

The talent teacher stopped me in the hallway and said, “Vilson, this seventh grade class is really excited about you!” Why? “Because they’re all saying that they’re going to pass.” Why? What did I say? “Oh because they said you were the coolest teacher.” Um, thanks?

One of my students who recently arrived from Dominican Republic asked me if her “Dominican notebooks” were acceptable for my class. The covers had pop stars and Barbie dolls, but the inside had light blue lined paper in it.  I said, “Does it have lines? Then you’re good.” I’m not sure who taught her that Dominican notebooks aren’t as good as American notebooks, but her notebook belongs with the other notebooks. I prefer to judge her on the content of her characters.

A few kids asked about my SoGoneChallenge and I’m shaking my head at every single student from last year as I wish them well on their first day of high school. I’ve seen them re-sharing my former students’ posts about my video and laughed. The minute they ask me, I just say, “Excuse me, do I know you?!” Then I let the awkward silence sit in until I wave it off with a “Just kidding what are you doing?”

A student said in Spanish “Vilson, you’re bad.”

I laughed. She’s got at least 200 more days to make that determination about me. Until then, I’ll keep doing my work, unbothered about legacy, making sure we surpass each other’s expectations.