The Students at the Center of Your Education Movement

Jose Vilson Jose 2 Comments

I recently had the pleasure of having brunch with a set of folks whose social justice work I love and respect, one of whom was eventually fired for teaching social justice. I normally start by just listening to folks before I turn up my volume. This time, since pancakes and eggs were on the menu, I figured I’d start by talking us into a comfortable space. At some point, the …


Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom and How We Plant Seeds

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 1 Comment

Confession: I didn’t get a chance to see Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom before taking my students. Confession #2: My kids wouldn’t have gone to see it either if I didn’t bring them myself. Here’s the thing about auto-bio pics that people don’t want to say, but will readily admit: if our youth don’t get a sense of why something or someone is important, they won’t pay attention to it. …

Kingda Ka, Six Flags Great Adventure

Learning To Fly (Reminding Ourselves That Students Are People)

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 1 Comment

Confession: I had the best time yesterday hanging with my students at Six Flags Great Adventure for their senior trip. From discovering that Adventure Time is my new favorite show (and I ain’t even know it) to testing out my intestinal fortitude (just fine for now, thank you very much), I got to see a side of my students I rarely get to see. The heights of the Kingda Ka …

Short Notes: Pearson Makes Money, Whether You Like It Or Not

Jose Vilson Short Notes 1 Comment

A few notes: William J. Reese lets the world know that none of this testing business is new. Good read. [New York Times] Pearson apologized for errors on the gifted and talented test. They get a stern warning, and get to sit in the corner for millions of dollars. (Commentary mine.) [GothamSchools] I was asked to write why Michelle Rhee isn’t going to face jail time, but Dr. Beverly Hall, …

Empty Chair

A Suspension of Time and School

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 9 Comments

You weren’t supposed to come back. Even though you were on our school’s roster, rumor had it that your guardian put you in a different school, and you’d no longer half-bounce into my class, calling one of your friends a “nigga-what-the-fuck” for something they allegedly did to you. Before you came back, you only knew me as the second math teacher, the Black-possibly-Dominican guy who came in to help your …

Don’t Let Me Down [On Opening Up When Things Go Down]

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 5 Comments

You’re not supposed to know when your student is this close to suicide. You get up in front of the classroom, get students started on their work, and get into the routine. Whether the routine comes from you or them matters little. The room buzzes for a while as they sit, but when the notebooks come out, the notebook pages ruffle, the pencils scratch, and your shoes tap along the …


A Whole Month Left (A Freewrite)

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“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 …


Privilege and My First and Only Meeting with Bobby Seale

Jose Vilson Jose 3 Comments

Not a year goes by without me hearing “These kids have no idea what a privilege it is to …” Usually because I’ve been the one saying it until the last year or so. The problem with having a privilege when you’re so unaccustomed to it is that you outwardly act like it doesn’t matter because you’re inwardly incapable of understanding how to show gratitude without looking subservient. Let me …


The Kids Will Tell You

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 4 Comments

On Saturday, I had the honor of listening to eight teens from a high school in Harlem for about 1/2 an hour (it was the third of four stops that Saturday), hosted by Columbia University professor and Twitter associate Christopher Emdin. While I didn’t get a chance to sit for the whole conversation, I noticed the passion and candor from each of the students. Whoever would question our students’ ability …

Learn When To Treat Them As Students And Then As People

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 5 Comments

A few weeks ago, I learned something about the year I’ve had so far, and it unnerved me in a way I didn’t expect. As most of you know, I celebrated another glorious birthday on this Earth on January 24th. I spent time in the company of family and friends through the weekend. IHOP, rum and coke mixes, and heavy doses of well wishes from around the world more than …