blogging Archives - The Jose Vilson


12 Blogs I Loved In 2012

by Jose Vilson on December 30, 2012

in Short Notes


In my short notes series, I like to share things I’ve read from around the web, usually parsed out from the plethora of things I pick up on my social media networks. At times, I find gems that keep me coming back for more. The following list have been reliable sources for pieces to share all year. I’ve had some of these in my Google reader since I started blogging, and some of these are relatively new to me. Either way, check them out and tell them I sent you:

In no particular order:

Maria Popova’s blog continues to be a source of inspiration for my writing. The curation of pieces is top notch.

NYC Educator

Not that people don’t already laud him for his blog, but recently, it feels like everyone’s talking about his blog. Y’all late, though. He’s always had good material.


If I ever wanted to know the real deal with Chicago Public Schools, especially around the Chicago strike, I go to Fred Klonsky’s blog.


Renee Moore pushes people to see past the left-right debate and look at what’s wrong with our education system. She’s like my blogging big sister.

Bastard Swordsman

Dart Adams’ blog reminds me of those conversations my boys used to have while listening to Gangstarr and A Tribe Called Quest. Worth every read.

Practical Theory

An administrator blog shows up on my list. Chris Lehmann’s blog has the soul of a man. His triumphs and tribulations pushed his writing into another stratosphere in 2012.

GOOD Education

At some point this year, GOOD decided to go in a whole different direction with their blog, controversially firing some of their most popular writers and inciting a few flames thrown through various blogs that I respect. Yet, Liz Dwyer’s writing seemed (pardon the pun) unchained in the aftermath. Before she got busy inviting some of us to write, her own postings sung to my pro-public leanings. She was worth every read this year.

Daniel Willingham

Dr. Willingham has always found a way to engage me in the research, most famously through his video on multiple intelligences. Nowadays, he runs a blog that has found its way into many an educator’s blog reader.

Hack Education

Audrey Watters loves kicking education technology in the pants. Necessary in a world where the ed-techers would rather raise their numbers than build solutions for education.

Education Rethink

Recently, John T. Spencer got an award for “Annoying Person who actually makes you question your teaching in a positive way Award.” I snickered. If anything, his blog demands you rethink your argument. Time and again.

Eva Haldane

This year, I saw too many of my closest colleagues drop their blogs for different reasons. Some did it for professional reasons, other personal. Few of us stuck around to keep sharing our thoughts. Eva was one of them. Her journey through the last year of her dissertation while fighting her own battles have shaken me to do better day after day.

The Smithian / Danamo

Writer / editor Danyel Smith’s Tumblr curates at a breakneck speed, her interests consolidated and parsed so finely, you wonder how she puts it all together.

These twelve always find their way into my consciousness and here’s hoping they find their way into yours. Thank you to these twelve plus the plethora of others I comment on regularly. You’ve made 2012 awesome. Do you have any favorites?

Jose, who wants to promote more quality Latino/a education-related blogs …


Sometime after Monday, I thought I’d have the hang of this blogging thing again. I was fairly confident that I could crank out some really good topics for my blog, and possibly a few tweets related to these extensive pieces. I would carve out my usual 8pm to 10pm schedule for my blogging process and come up with something both insightful and gripping. The headlines kept coming up all week, some of them too good to pass up.

And I did. These otherwise easy layups didn’t even come out of my hands since Monday, ending up running out of bounds for the week. Turnover city. And all those other good metaphors.

On Tuesday, I wanted to write about the fact that Black students are three times more likely than White students to get suspended in school, Arne Duncan’s reaction, and my own experiences about it (Colleague Liz Dwyer eventually did). I would have approached it from The Throne’s “Murder to Excellence” wave, and then jumped right into it.

As a matter of fact, the first line in my draft is, “Then, people ask me why I blog so hard. If someone told me that my chances of getting suspended were three times higher than a person who might have the same intellectual capacity but just looked differently than I do, I’d probably question the entire system of equal opportunity and piss off the rest of the year.”

But, as I wrote my next sentence, … “WAH!”

Then a few small sniffles and taps against a mattress.


Then a little more quiet.

I look at my fiancee. She looks at me. I look back at her. She looks back at me.

“Are YOU going to stay with him all night?” No, I’m not. She is.

Sure enough, I’m picking him up, whistling in his ear, throwing him over my left shoulder, putting formula in a Dr. Brown’s bottle (more complicated than a regular one for sure), sitting him down on my lap, flipping him around so I can put his bib on, and stopping the “WAAAHH!” in one swoop of the bottle. By the time the drinking, burping, wiping, diaper and pajama changing, rocking until he sleeps again cycle is over, it’s 11:00pm, right on time for a shower and my own cycle.

Blogging as a new parent is HARD.

The precious hours we have to actually get a thought out shouldn’t be reduced to a Facebook status or a tweet; both seem so ephemeral unless people share it with their worlds. Plus, I prefer the long form because I rarely get to rant in person, preferring to listen 75% of the time.

Alas, having long, careful thoughts don’t mesh with this more pertinent lifestyle. How many of us can truly be an effective dad and an effective blogger at the same time? Of course, I can always just post snippets of things I’ve seen around the web, or pre-program all my posts for the week, yet every time I do that, it seems inauthentic, like, “Jose, that’s not what I was thinking that day. Wack.”

The other four starters went something like,

“For Women’s History Day, Rush Limbaugh was gifted an enema for his mouth …”

“Why hasn’t Superfly Jimmy Snuka elbow-dropped Secretary of Education Arne Duncan from the top rope or a podium?”

“Another year, another African country in dire need of your rescue, America!”

“Yes, I was in Gotham Schools yesterday, NYC Department of Education employee. You mad late, yo.”

At some point, the baby will sleep more than four hours at a time, NYC Department of Education will unblock blogs critical of their pedagogical policies, and I’ll actually get to stick to my Sunday / Monday / Tuesday / Thursday schedule. Until then, I can only promise that every word I write reflects the my truth as I see it, limited only by the other roles I’ve taken on.

They say that “writers write,” but sometimes writers can’t write, because writers tend to be more than writers. Writers are people collecting experiences with which to write, like ax-men finding wood to stoke their fires.

Jose, who can’t wait to tell you all about the next piece …


The “The” in The Jose Vilson … and You

by Jose Vilson on September 30, 2011

in Jose

Thank you, and you, and you.

I know I don’t say it enough, but all the RTs, shares, and praise keeps me going at times when I’ve wanted to stop writing. This blogging, written from one’s gut instead of one’s throat, takes a certain amount of people power to fuel the writers’ engines. This writer in particular. If only one person reads this, and they felt it necessary to tell their circles about it, then I’ve made a dent.

A discussion about my blog’s name between Michael Doyle and John T. Spencer prompted my thanks. I didn’t have the words to reply to any of them on first read. Now that I do have the words, I’ll start off by saying that the “The” in “The Jose Vilson” came from an early need to claim my place in the vast blogosphere. I went from having a well-defined space in a network that didn’t grow with me to this independent space where I didn’t know how I’d generate any interest in what I had to say. Harmony, Amber, and a few others encouraged me to get my own space because they thought I could. I think the general consensus was that, if I wanted to become a writer that mattered, I’d have my own space to do the writing in.

I had much less faith in my own abilities.

For one, I had a sea of frenemies who sought to comment on my blogs for self-righteous purposes, and at the time, I let too many of them influence the way I discussed my word. Critiques like “My blog gets read by college professors and really intelligent people” and “You’ll never get published at the rate you’re going; you’ll just get tons of comments and that’ll be the extent of your work” got under my skin in ways that it shouldn’t have. In my youth, I didn’t build enough resistance to the snide comments, the people who called me cocky when all I ever did was keep my mouth shut during my most triumphant moments, or the indirect shots at my character. I insulated my retorts, quipping under my breath “AsifIdidn’tactuallyworkhardforeverythingI’vedonelikewtfseriously?”

I lacked for confidence then, and didn’t understand that I had a duty to share my talents, wherever (or whomever) they came from. If I had something to say, and a way of saying it that few others did, then I better share what I have, because otherwise it’s a disservice to the spirit that gave it to me.

Thus, I leaped headfirst into finding my own niche. I first did some research about blogs that might inspire me for this new platform, of which there were few. Then, I did a quick Google Search on my name and noticed that, according to the search engine, I was the only Jose Vilson. Brazil had a Jose Vilson, but Vilson wasn’t that person’s last name. I started saying “The Only Jose Vilson” aloud a few times, but it sounded nuts. Then I contracted it to “The Jose Vilson.” I think I told Harmony and she said, “That’s gangsta!” or something reminiscent of that.

I don’t enjoy the same amount of comments I did back then, but my writing makes bigger ripples now. I might write a post about the New York Times not having enough teachers in their panels and they give teachers premium seats at their conferences. I might bring hip-hop to an audience usually anemic in diversity and they’ll put it on the front page of their mags. I still get props from entertainment blogs and education blogs alike. With the “the,” I gained influence amongst a crowd that, frankly, has to privilege to need no such introduction. With the “the,” I get to be honest as possible where others might shy away from such topics. In a way, I subconsciously had to lay claim to a space with a bold statement about who I was … and how I preferred my efforts to be taken seriously.

In the immortal words of Rakim, “I ain’t no joke.”

As such, I continue to stay grateful for the comments and love I receive. The only way to let people know I appreciate it is to keep sharing, keep talking, keep doing. If I’ve inspired someone to push on, fight on, write on, live on, then we’ve made each other that much better.

Mr. Vilson, who wishes you all a GOOD Friday


If You Don’t Give Me Heaven, I Raise Hell

September 6, 2011 Jose

Did we cross the threshold of teacher complacency yet? Today, Pernille Ripp asked “How many of us blog about our philosophies and classroom changes but are too afraid to tell our face to face colleagues?” to her followers. I responded, “I used to. This year, I’ve decided against it.” Some, including Mary Beth Hertz, were […]

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Yes, Yes, But I’m Also Black [On Blogging In The Ed-World]

August 7, 2011 Jose
Jack Johnson, Unforgivably Black

Last week, I brought up my opinion that children of color shouldn’t be limited to certain occupations due to the perceived notions of observers. I especially pointed this out to [some] White so-called liberals, because it seems that too many of them believe that their pseudo-liberalism absolves from the critique of their racial bias. Even […]

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The Education Grassroots Ascends (#EduSolidarity, Great American Teach-In, and Save Our Schools)

March 21, 2011 Jose

I have the privilege of being a part of a triumvirate of grassroots educational movements that I hope will change the landscape of the local and national discussions around education. Passionate. Provocative. Inspiring. Participatory. First is #EDUsolidarity, an effort born from the mind of Steven Lazar, union leader and acclaimed social studies teacher in the […]

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