kobe bryant Archives - The Jose Vilson

kobe bryant

Malala Yousafzai

A few notes:


“I just say to him, ‘You’re Alex Rodriguez. You’re A-Rod. You’re one of the best to ever do it. I think sometimes he kind of forgets that and wants to try to do the right thing all the time. Which is the right team attitude to have. But other times you really have to put your head down and say, ‘Hell with it’ and just do your thing. Hopefully the next game they’ll kind of give him a chance, maybe put him back at third and let him respond to the pressure, which I think he’ll do….

We’re different, but you’re talking about, ‘He’s one of the best to ever play.’ I think really the difference is, sometimes he forgets he’s the best. … Where, I don’t.”

- Kobe Bryant, regarding Alex Rodriguez


Jose, who needs you to subscribe to my e-mail newsletter, because Feedburner might be no longer …


Here is another recent interview with Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski and yours truly. The piece never made it into Yahoo!, but he e-mailed it to me anyways.

The scene here is the usual: arguments abound about the future of education, the rank and file teachers jump into their political slots for the election year, millionaires and billionaires covertly endorse the candidates malleable enough to shift their well intentioned opinions to right of center ones, and the apolitical stand to the side nesting into educational technology and other cursory vernacular. With so few that voice their opinions at this high level of frankness and transparency, Vilson can live with the snippy comebacks, the tokenism of inclusion (or the ignorance of exclusion) from top lists and acknowledgments, the general lack of positivity amongst colleagues, and the covert hate thrown in his direction by colleagues who don’t get it. Amongst friends, he rarely mentions these things. Just don’t remind him of what I just reminded you.

“I don’t give a [expletive] what you say,” Vilson told me yesterday. “If I go out there and write a nice story where no one shares it or comments, people say, ‘Vilson choked, or Vilson is x for whatever the [expletive] in critical situations.’ Well, [expletive] you!”

“Because I don’t write for your f**king approval. I write for my own love and enjoyment of the blog. And to tell the story that no one else has the cojones to tell. Most of the time, when people feel the pressure, they’re worried about what others might say about them, or do to them. I don’t have that fear, and it enables me to forget bad pieces and write harder and write about my life so candidly.”

Deep down, Vilson does recognize it. Not because the side commentary weighs him down, but because it’s the heat under his palms. Compared to his contemporaries, he doesn’t write as much in his eponymous blog as others do, but he averages enough words in a post to compensate and then some. Seven years he’s been asked to do his job at a high level, and seven years he’s grown into the professional we know today, out of sheer hard work, listening more than he’s said, and enough resolve to fight through the toughest moments in his career. He doesn’t think he’s above reproach, but nine times out of ten, he’s able to brush the dirt off his proverbial shoulder.

“And maybe that’s what separates me from a lot of people: I can laugh at myself when people think I’m doing nothing, whereas most people might feel really insecure or nervous about the next one, or pissed off and hold that anger for the next list or whatever have you. I can find the entertainment and humor in it.”

Let me write, Vilson seems to say. Piss me off, don’t include people of color in your circles. Speak ill of kids you’re supposed to care about, and he jumps right into the melee. Tell him he’s not a classroom teacher and the next rhyme he writes might be about you. He prefers discussions that get fiery without getting personal, factual without getting tedious, rhythmic without getting argumentative. He says he laughs when he lets others have the last word because he’ll wait long enough for the truth to reveal itself.

“The fallout from disagreement is always something that makes some writers hesitant,” Vilson said. “They’re thinking about their legacies, their reputations, their connections  to high-profile people, and often, their agendas.”

Anyway, f**k them. No hesitancy here. No fear of the miss. It is a liberating feeling, and it’s where he forever wants to live.

Jose, who heavily borrowed from Adrian Wojnarowski for this satirical piece …


Some of you might be asking, “But Jose, isn’t your data in the public view? Aren’t you afraid that your job is on the line somehow?” Sure. On Saturday, after seeing the report in the New York Post, I started to see the scores of my fellow teachers in the building and thinking, “This can’t be life.” Thus, Biggie’s Ready to Die played in heavy rotation on my iPod while I thought of ways to self-sooth, as if the deluge of misinformation would eat away of my healthy status as a contributing member of the education community. Without my fiancee’s intervention, I’d have a harder time jumping out of the temporary funk.

Suffice it to say, I wasn’t happy that the New York Post had published this erroneous data so liberally (see what I did there?). It’s par for course for a rag that consistently publishes soft porn and racist cartoons and puts hundreds of their papers at the doorsteps of our schools. Their nerve is only surpassed by an administration that shouldn’t have created the reports to start. Thus, it’s only right that the same Post decided to publicly humiliate a teacher with no rhyme or reason, possibly for their own shits and giggles.

Disclaimer: Here are five quick reasons why you shouldn’t believe any of it (besides the ones I stated on Thursday.)

Never mind that. You came to see some sort of testimonial on these numbers.

I’m leery about providing too many details on that here. On the way back from getting some Rockports for my teacher-weary feet, I realized something. If these scores have me judged against my peers of similar experience and demographics, I have some news for them: half my peers have already left the profession. Indeed, a third of my peers left by the first couple of years, and exactly half my peers left two years ago. In my seventh year, my peers have started to look for corporate jobs, jobs in third party vendors, or administration. Out of those of us who are left, we probably see our jobs as careers. These is the set of professional teachers that will teach children for the next couple of decades (2030, even).

How can we expect teachers to want to stay in a profession that doesn’t want to respect them or want them to be successful by a fair measure?

Why would you judge me on a fairer measure than a snapshot, knowing full well that only a third of my students have been taken into account for the scores? Why would you get at me so hard after I just started teaching and don’t believe in drilling my students with how to fill in bubbles? Why would you accost me with this after knowing I teach students who have learning disabilities, have special accommodations for learning, speak limited English, and have a myriad of issues I don’t excuse, but can’t control? If you really want your best and passionate teachers in the classrooms where we need them most, why humiliate the only teachers who would jump headfirst into this situations?

While certain people are in the business of education, I’m actually educating. Huge difference.

But people like Steve Perry or any of his acolytes might reprimand me by saying I’m just an adult looking out for my own job rather than educating youth. Sure, we’re speaking to the media, organizing with (and without) our union, developing our own blogs and radio stations, learning about social media, and asking for a contract (NYC teachers are working without one right now). Yet, we’re also about our kids. There is no contradiction there. Since so much of our job entails sacrifice, don’t we deserve the ability to negotiate some terms about our job?

Because that’s what professionals do.

Before the All Star Game started, Richard Branson asked Kobe Bryant about success in the latest installment of the “Kobe System” commercial series. Branson asserts that he had already achieved success at success. He had been underwater, in space, and everywhere in between, to which Kobe said, “You’re welcome.” Perplexed, Branson then asks, “What comes next? What’s after success at success?” Naturally, Kobe explains that there is a success at success at success. Disappointed in himself, Branson then says, “You’re right, I haven’t achieved that.” No matter where teachers are in the spectrum of success, we always want to do our jobs better and find the next level of success. Even if all of our students do well, we want to see if there’s another level where they can repeat that success.

In other words, we’re professionals. We don’t need the Post up our asses trying to find what drives us. I’ve only now begun to succeed.

Mr. Vilson, who can’t wait to get back to class tomorrow, despite myself …