earthquake Archives - The Jose Vilson


The Shakes, For Real

by Jose Vilson on August 23, 2011

in Jose

Mayor Mike Bloomberg of NYC with Mayor Boris Johnson of London

This afternoon, I posted the following joke on my Facebook:

If school was in session, Bloomberg wouldn’t close schools. Around lunchtime, he’d say, “Let them have shakes.”

I jest. Well, for the most part. Surprisingly, there was no announcement from our mayor on anything. NYC Educator might quip here that he’s probably having lunch somewhere in Bermuda, to which I’d laugh with my mouth agape. Then again, this earthquake business struck me in more ways than one. While I’m able to find a little levity in earth-shaking situations where no one really gets hurt, the earthquake came right after another jarring moment for me. After cleaning every crevice of my bathroom, I looked in my fiancee’s eyes and said, “I really don’t want to go back to work.”

Customary for the teacher facing the dusk of his summer, but not for me.

Frankly, it has a lot less to do with my students and more to do with adults. I maintain that I’ll always have more problems with working with adults than children. Yes, they both come with their set of issues, but there’s a key difference. With children, you can excuse them for the very reason they’re in front of us: they’re children. They’re prone to childish mistakes, childish attitudes, and childish mindsets. They aren’t always mature, always pleasant, always sparkling, always ready to learn, or always courteous. But for the next 180 periods you have them in front of you, they remain children, despite their contentions otherwise.

With adults, you expect better. Adults come with the same issues I’ve outlined for children, except you’d think that the maturity thing kicks in with age. In my job as math coach, I’m not just working with adults in the building (and for the record, I love my math department, without exception). It’s the people we have to “answer to,” “work with,” and “play nice with.” These parts of my job no one envies. The tons of hands to shake, the memorization of jargon, the distractions from the students, the distractions from the students, the distractions from the students …

I understand it’s about the kids, but it’s not about 30-60-90 for me anymore; it’s been about 750 now. Thus, yet, the farther we get away from them, the more we have to shake hands with too many others. I mean, if you really don’t care much about kids, then working with adults works well for you and you’re totally looking forward to coming into the school year. You come into the job, make a bunch of boxes with words in them that eventually does little but make someone else’s language more oblique, and assuring yourself that validation will come from the eyes of people doing the similar work I just outlined for you.

For the rest of us, who actually seek validation in the improvement of schools (and I do include some principals and central office folk here), the coming school year unnerves us. Believe it or not, there’s a secret tension there, too. As these plates shift to a new school year, I can feel the tremors from here.

For that, regrettably, I feel the shakes, and there isn’t a lesson plan in the world that can help me see otherwise.

Jose, who might post a rhyme or two on my Tumblr page. Stay tuned …


Every Waking Moment I’m Haitian, Too

by Jose Vilson on January 12, 2011

in Jose

The New Year marked the 207th year of Haitian independence from French rule, a big footnote in time rubbed away into the crevices of Anglo history books. What many should consider a moment of celebration and exaltation gets shrouded in the dire situation that Haiti’s lived in since. Corrupt leaders, disintegrated economies, and disruptive occupants have ravaged a still proud country to its current state. Thus, I find it only appropriate that people choose to remember the one-year anniversary of the most devastating earthquakes in its history; what the world perceived as help towards the country turned into a loophole for the “First” world to re-intervene into the country’s politics.

It’s with this thinking that I had my first initial annoyance this morning. Maybe I should have stepped back because my friends and acquaintances are well-intended surely. Overall, as I read the messages, though, I couldn’t help but snicker when people asked me to take a moment for Haiti. I said to my screen, “What exactly does this moment look like?” Is it a Haitian emblem or using words like Ayiti or sak pase? More importantly, is this going to last another couple of years before some subliminal news story hits that the newly installed Haitian government can’t seem to get it together on their own, even when stories of the people’s will have come in droves? Do we forget this the way we forgot the tsnumanis, hurricanes, and un-unatural disasters that have hit the world over?

Because I haven’t. I can’t. No matter how little I speak the language or any of those social indicators, I’m still Haitian. Every moment I step in a positive direction, I do it for Haiti. Others do it for Southeast Asia. Others still do it for New Orleans. Whoever they do it for, they do it not as a “moment,” but an urgency. You have every right to. If you’re going to remember once a year and continue with your personal causes, then that’s your imperative. Few think about this, but if we’re products of our environment, we’re equally the representatives of them, even if we choose to not associate with it.

Thus, after January 12th, there will still be that feeling for me. It’s probably the longing to visit the side of the island I haven’t been to yet.

Jose, who’s just a writer now, no edublogging.