Short Notes: Make A Wish

Jose Vilson Short Notes 6 Comments

Falling Star

1. Some of my readers will most definitely hate me for this, but fuck it: I’m not feeling the Stevie Wonder version of “Happy Birthday.” Yes, I realize it’s for MLK, and yes, I realize it has historical significance as a marker for getting his birthday recognized as a national holiday, but frankly, I’m just not feeling it, and I’m thoroughly happy no one came to me with that version of the song or else I might have been wincing through that cacophony.

2. My birthday was pretty awesome. Tons of messages on all my social networks, a chocolate fudge cake, some poems, some gifts, some visits from alum that I taught in my previous years, and an assortment of happy birthday chants before, during, and after all my classes. Absolute insanity. I even walked into the lunchroom and the whole 5th-6th grade sang to me, and I definitely didn’t ask for it. Special.

3. My lady gave me a warm-up NY Yankees jersey, a poem (that I won’t get into here because it’s pretty amazing), and a card whose title read “Make a Wish.” Inside, the primary message read: “Dreamers know the magic of wishing upon stars.” She always knows the right things to say when the moment comes. As for how I replied, “uh … I have no words for this. I’m humbled.” Clunk. I need Denzel’s screenwriters.

4. Of course, my birthday wasn’t completely without a snag. My homeroom has gotten in so much trouble with the floor that they were told they couldn’t dress down on Friday while the rest of the school had dress-down day. I personally voted for them to get dress-down day simply because I don’t think my homeroom is that terrible as they are just a bad experiment by people who don’t really care about the kids. The other teachers, however, voted against their dress-down day, so it was immediately enacted, and it was more supported by the fact that, as the vote happened, one of my girls was hit in the eye by an object one of my boys threw, so she had a nasty bloodclot and had to go home. The vote was enacted by the AP, so of course, I had to respect it.

After they found out about the vote, I closed the door and had a little talk with them. “Let me talk to you for a second, ladies and gentlemen. When I started this profession, I felt I could help classes who honestly needed someone to support them and care for them, from my first class all the way up to this class. Now for you, the question becomes, how badly do you want to succeed? How great do you want to become? How much more effort can you individually put in? When someone comes and reaches out to help you, what will you do? What happened today with (the girl) happened because none of you looked out for that person. Unfortunately, you all don’t look at yourselves as friends, family, or even teammates, but you are. And it’ll be this way for the next 3 years. I know what I need to do to keep pushing you, but how will you get it together? There’s only so many times we can keep you after school. Come together. Make it happen.”

Those were my last words to them on my birthday. Of course, the next day, a third of them decided to civilly disobey by coming in no uniform, which the AP found disrespectful to her because she said they couldn’t come dressed down. Understood. My statement to my homeroom?

“Well I see a lot of you aren’t in uniform, which is fine. Those of you who do have uniform, that’s good because you did what you had to do for the class. Those of you who aren’t in uniform, however, here’s what I’ll tell you. It’s well within your right and liberty to protest, and I have respect for that. [slight applause here] Just know that if you’re going to protest, then you have to recognize the consequences. [a collective gulp here]. OK, take out your binders.”

I’m telling you, this is a special homeroom.

jose, who will go to the gym today for the first time in a couple of months, I promise …

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 6

  1. Alisha9

    Wow! Sounds like a great b-day – I don’t particularly care for Stevie Wonder’s version of happy b-day either. . .So, what WERE the consequences. . . I gotta know :)

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  3. LuzMaria

    Sounds like your kids have quite a spirit. It certainly keeps you on your toes from what I have been reading. Imagine that, sixth graders being civil disobedient because they wanted to be part of the dress down day. They are beginning to learn that their actions do have consequences, good and bad. Mr. V. another challenging class for you. I am so looking forward to read about their growth even though it will be painful for them every now and then. Don’t be easy on them. Make them stronger!!!

    You are such a fortunate man to have so many people remember your birthday. It is truly a blessing. It must be nice for you to receive so much affection and love from your lady, to the point that you became speechless. Hope that this year brings you closer to your dreams.

  4. Shelly

    Glad you had such an awesome birthday, Jose – seems you are truly loved! What blessings :-)

    Sounds like you handled the unfortunate behaviour of your class nicely – talked to them with integrity, respect and strength – very admirable. What’s even more admirable is the way you seem to have an infinite pool of patience and care for your kids – how do you do it??! If only there more like you in terms of how you approach the job.

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    Jose

    Shelly, I don’t know how I do it either. I want to say it has something to do with a mental deficiency or something, or my Aquarian nature, because any other explanation really wouldn’t explain it. Thanks nonetheless.

    Yes, Luz, maybe they’ll even protest things when they really need to be protested …

  6. Frumteacher

    That sounds like an amazing birthday. I love the card you received.

    As for your homeroom class, I wish I could observe you in action sometime because I think that you are doing amazing things with that class…

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