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On Teachers Writing Books (Myself Included) [CTQ]

by Jose Vilson on October 15, 2013

in Mr. Vilson

Deborah Meier, Mission Hill

Deborah Meier, Mission Hill

First, let me thank you for my support of my first solo project This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Rice, Class, and Education. I’m already seeing the uptick in pre-orders, and for that, I’m already appreciative. You have a few ways to connect with the experience, so be on the lookout for more as we finish up our edits.

Secondly, let me speak more broadly on educators writing books, and not just books about practice:

The last thing I’d want is for a teacher to think their work might get them fired. I must be nuts.

I have this wild belief that, simmering underneath our longform pieces, our emotional posts, and our great diatribes about what happened in school. Thus, those of us with a gift need to put their words in even longer form: the book. Special shout-out to Dan Brown (the teacher), Deborah Meier, Bill Ayers, and Frank McCourt, but teacher writers need more cache when it comes to our stories, and the ways in which those stories inspire others to teach.

To read more, click here. Share and comment on who you’d like to see write a book. Thanks again!

Mr. Vilson

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Pay Teachers

Pay Teachers

Do you want to make money as a teacher? Of course you do.

You know how hard it is to make money as a teacher? We already work enough unpaid hours grading papers, calling parents, and writing lesson plans. Why not profit off of it?

These and other questions came up today because a frequent commenter asked me on my Facebook page what I thought about this topic. I said I’d leave it up to my folk on the Facebook page. You can read the comments for yourself. I liked most of the nuanced responses.

Before I give my own, here’s something to consider about this whole discussion. Teachers are often asked to take the altruistic, heroic roles for whatever reason. It’s bad enough that we have too many pockets of society that say teachers get paid too much already, even though I know more than a handful of teachers who take on side jobs just to make ends meet. The idea that teachers shouldn’t get paid more, shouldn’t even ask to get paid more, or try to sell their wares comes from a false dichotomy that makes teachers seeking to make money in any ethical way look like they’re not interested in anything but themselves.

Having said that, I don’t think lesson plans are the way to go. If anything, lesson plans seem to have an ephemeral value; I can’t use them exactly the way I used them before. If anything, lesson plans don’t translate well to other years, especially if the unit or learning arc look different year to year. You can even make an argument for things like group projects, performance tasks, or other assessment materials because a) publishers already try to sell that to us and b) good ones that come right from teachers are hard to come by.

Even then, I’ve shared most of my wares freely either directly on this site or indirectly via my school’s website. Lesson plans ought to come from the teacher, and with an understanding of what the teachers’ particular students need. That comes from experience and expertise, something I think all teachers should get paid for. I get it if a third-party vendor comes in and helps teachers who don’t know how to approach assessment or building a collaborative culture, but, if there are enough experts in the district, why not pay them for their expertise like you would somebody else? Especially with so many people who profit off of teachers’ labor.

These are just questions swimming around. I welcome other thoughts on this. Please.

Mr. Vilson

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Clearly, we need to define what “teacher” means a little more, and “educator,” for that matter. We also need to understand what that means for teacher voice. I spark a discussion here:

The term “celebrity teacher” is such a difficult one too, because it presumes that the spotlight should focus strictly on the teacher and not on the ways in which that teacher helps students. The profession doesn’t lend itself to alpha dogs and sunbathers of the egoistic type. Yet, I have a hard time with the idea that, in a landscape with people so replete with opinions about our profession, that we shouldn’t have the same viability when we speak about it ourselves.

Please read the rest. Chime in. Like. Share. Thanks.

On National Education Discourse (Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That)

January 17, 2013 Jose

This is what happens when you start listening to folks who think the answer is square in the middle. The first time I took issue with a Michael Petrilli post, I was annoyed because, when it comes to education, only the people in his circle (frenemies or not) mattered and the rest of us (read: […]

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Closing Schools In The Time Of A Hurricane [SchoolBook]

November 26, 2012 Mr. Vilson

An excerpt from my first post at the popular Schoolbook, a WNYC project: As educators, we are charged with helping our children feel that, as wild as the world may seem, we will pull through. Parents, children, and other invested adults seek asylum in our schools because of our routines, the familiarity, and the dulcet […]

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Charter School Teachers Vs. Public School Teachers (Education Nation) [Why We Write]

September 26, 2012 Jose
Education Nation Teacher Town Hall 2012

She said she doesn’t like when teachers differentiate themselves between charter and public. I nodded cautiously. At the Education Nation Teacher Town Hall, while NBC anchor Brian Williams feigned nervousness in front of the hundreds of educators in front of us, teachers from all different groups convened at the Public Library, some from groups like […]

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