Redefinition - The Jose Vilson

Redefinition

by Jose Vilson on March 20, 2007

my classroomToday, I could start off with an anecdote about a kid whose own inner complexities make her sensitive and bossy, sweet yet callous enough to steal and discard without remorse, mature on one end of the spectrum, yet too involved in her own sense of power over meeker beings to understand how she negatively affects others.

Then, that means I’d have to go into the frustrations I feel as a teacher towards these constant contradictions, and their negative effects on the classroom. More so, I’d have to get into her own rather suspect relationships with friends, family members, and former sexual partners. Then, I’d also have to go into how she and the educational system continue to fail each other on so many levels. All these events tie into how this girl is at a crossroads of her life where someone can more easily and readily help her see another way of living or she could become another negative statistic about Latina women in this country.

These and many more narratives explain why my job becomes more than just an 8-3. If we took an honest look at the teaching profession (unlike the current administration for NYC), we would see that it takes more than a master’s degree to make a classroom work. A real worker in any field is hard to come by, when, even in education, one can bypass the practically necessary prerequisites of true field experience and earned credentials through nepotism and a quasi-oligarchic system reminiscent of an all-boys club.

There aren’t any rubrics for how to tell a kid who’s getting abused at home to be quiet and do their work. There isn’t a bulletin board in the world that helps these kids learn how to cope with their constant social pressures. There aren’t many lesson plans that have an objective that states, “We will be able to increase the population of Black and Latino youth in higher levels of education” or at the very least ” … become better citizens in our community.”

Any real teacher can tell you what positions belong on their resumes:

Teacher
Parent
Brother / Sister
Friend
Disciplinarian
Strategist
Secretary
Babysitter
Counselor
Activist
Inspirational Speaker
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When the scribes write the books about teachers, though, they might use the word teacher derisively, and may use the adjectives, “greedy,” “self-serving,” “pompous,” and “ungrateful.” When people ask those very scribes to go into the classroom themselves, they go back to their quills and caves and continue bashing teachers with these same adjectives.

jose, who believes instruction and classroom management belong on the top part of the educational priority list and that bulletin boards belong somewhere next to whether a kid should go to the bathroom or whether there’s enough chalk for that day’s lesson

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

pre_k March 22, 2007 at 9:36 pm

hmmm.. i have to look at this situation differently because all of my years in primary and secondary education i found very few teachers who actually cared. so i personally look at half of these teachers sideways when they call themselves getting self righteous. cause truth is half of them don’t give a damn and it shows. but for the teachers who do care i will give them their props.

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angelamichelle March 23, 2007 at 11:32 am

fortunately, i had tons of teachers who cared and went above and beyond the calls of 8-3 duty for their students. but that was many, many moons ago when education wasn’t so trivialized. now, that breed of teacher is becoming increasingly rare. i am so glad to know you are of that caliber.

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Lara March 23, 2007 at 12:33 pm

I think that you have identified something that most people are afraid to talk about – that parents are no longer parenting children – instead they are managing their careers and trying to navigate through an unnecessarily complicated socio-economic landscape – feeling those needs must take priority over parenting their children – they leave that up to TEACHERS – who have a classroom full (40+ – too many children to parent at once) of confused & abandoned young people.

My mother was a teacher for 30 years – she passed in 1995.

You are among the greatest heroes of our time – doing what you do every day.

Hugs,
Lara

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LuzMaria March 25, 2007 at 11:26 am

As a fellow educator, I completely agree with you. Our on-going challenge is not to only to teach the basics-mathematics, writing and reading per the NYS standards. We are also teaching our children how to survive in the real world-the one outside that school building. A bulletin board is not the “window” for us to peek through to see what our kids go through every single day at home, in their neighborhood, and how they feel. Administrators, unfortunately, focus on the window dressing or the show we have to put on for the “visitors.” If you are a responsible educator with a conscience, instruction will be taking place every single day in an old school building or in the beautiful “Glass House.”

It is amusing to see that NYS standards added the words “multi-cultural education” as a criteria that needs to be addressed in our teaching. It irritates me to no end that the powers to be feel as if by using this catchy phrase, they are really addressing our children’s needs. They are not. Therefore, “real” educators are the ones addressing all the needs of our children on a daily basis, to the point of us being emotionally, mentally, and physically drained by the end of the week. Jose, it is good to know that you are at the front lines providing our children with survival skills. Thank you.

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