A Whole Month Left (A Freewrite)

Jose Vilson Jose Leave a Comment

“You’re going to miss us!” “Yes, I’m going to miss bothering the heck out of you!” I mean, why do students think we’re actually going to spend our off time thinking about them? Except when we do. Like now. There’s only a month left before we usher them on to their next stations in life (most of them anyways). They’re going to take new trips to school, new friends, different …

Detroit Classroom

On Getting Better At Your Craft

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 4 Comments

This year, I decided I was going to focus more intently on developing lesson plans day-to-day. To be honest, I lost a bit of that, thinking that developing plans by units would be substantive enough to get through to my students and through my curriculum. I was approaching “getting better” by concentrating on getting better at developing units (something I had never done before), but then I was losing sight …

Above and Beyond

Jose Vilson Jose 1 Comment

Often, people make me question what the words “above and beyond” mean in an age when we’re obsessed with overworking and overstating. When Carmen told me that she will not go above and beyond in her activism, I started to think about what that meant based on what I knew about her. When someone approaches her about her hair, her dress, or her passions, she’s not likely to say, “Because …

I Got Nuttin’ But Love For Ya

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 3 Comments

I wear a mask when I go to work. It’s the Mr. Vilson mask, and it provides me the distance from people that my age (and respect) otherwise wouldn’t give me. I wear it when I get off the A train on the Dyckman – 200 St. stop. I wear it as I race up the stairs out of the train, aware of the teachers and students behind me. I …

The Honeymooners

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 1 Comment

Everyone calls this period the “honeymoon” on purpose. We lay the ground rules for the first few periods we encounter each other, get to know each other a bit, and make connections based on things we might have already observed. From there, we play nice, engaging in a light display of tug-and-pull, a diluted version of tug-of-war, sure to appear sometime later in the episode. Now isn’t the time for …

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

Jose Vilson Jose 2 Comments

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 surprised. She said, “… was just suprised to hear that from someone who spoke his …

The 2011 Mr. Vilson Manifesto [Dark Knight Feeling]

Jose Vilson Jose 3 Comments

I’m not a hero. You can start off with the greatest intentions, develop great relationships, and create wonderful initiatives for your team. By our own meritocratic illusions, we believe that the more someone does these things in their spaces, they’re entitled to a certain amount of greatness. Yet, our reality establishes limits on that type of success, even for those of us doing the right work. Through the process of …

My Philosophy, Part 2011

Jose Vilson Jose 4 Comments

Recently, Chuck Klosterman wrote an exceptional article on contemporary writer legend Jonathan Franzen in GQ Magazine, where Klosterman devotes a significant amount of time to Franzen’s perceptions of himself and people’s perceptions of him. He prefaced the entire article with this fantastic description of Franzen: “Important is a problematic word, particularly when prefaced by the modifier most and especially when prefaced by the modifier only. To classify a man as …

Pre-Birthday Celebration at Mom's House

Pardon The Swag

Jose Vilson Jose 4 Comments

In celebration of my forthcoming birthday tomorrow (Monday, the 24th), I started sharing secrets to (my) life in my Facebook statuses. Here they were: Secret #1: I’m always thinking about the footprint I’d like to leave in the world, a natural part of working with kids. Secret #2: Once I became a teacher, I became more confident externally because I had to be humble internally. Thus, pardon the swag. Secret …


Life as a Marathon, Not a Short Sprint

Jose Vilson Jose 1 Comment

Today, my friends Melissa and Paul Melkonian finished 26.2 miles worth of New York City terrain. They’re probably some of the most adventurous and confident people I’ve ever known. Anyone willing to start from Staten Island, across Sunset Park in Brooklyn, around Hunters Point in Queens, through Roosevelt Island, up and down the hilly Upper East Side and Harlem, into the track-laden cement of the South Bronx, and finishing around …