tedxnyed Archives - The Jose Vilson


Heart Matters When You Speak

February 5, 2013

Excerpt from my latest at The Future of Teaching:

Instead, what the audience got that night was me speaking from the heart. Sure, I prepared, but I hoped to convey the passion and love I have for teaching as I do in conversations with you, or in my own writing. Sometimes, while striving for perfection, we forget the delicate balance between divinity and humanity. What makes any “talk” we give isn’t knocking out the “umms” and “errs” from our speech, standing up straight, or speaking in a slow ans steady tone. It’s the connection we make with people who listen to us. We have an opportunity every day to speak to people and make an impact one way or the other about them. These young people will have an idea they’d like heard, and you might be their first audience member.

To read more, click here. Read. Share. Comment. Thanks!

Jose, who wants you to listen more than speak this week, please …


You didn’t think I’d let the weekend go by without talking about TEDxNYED right?

I was honored to be invited to speak (second!) at the TEDx conference at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens yesterday. You often hear notes from the audience’s perspective, but the speakers who don’t post as often as they should. Part of it might be that speakers may feel weird about saying, “Mine was the best talk, but here are other ones I liked.” It could also be that they’re so into their talk that they didn’t hear the other ones until later on. Whatever the reason, I decided to shed some of those notions.

Let me share some secrets.

1. Every speaker who was good on stage was nervous as hell backstage.

Sorry for putting that out there, but it’s true. I won’t say which of the talks resonated with me, but all the speakers who resonated with me paced back and forth in the green room. I know I was a complete mess; I occupied the backstage mirror trying to convince myself that I had it in me to do this talk. I can only imagine what went through the minds of my other colleagues after I told them my “What’s the worst that can happen?” philosophy.

2. Unlike the other speakers, I was more nervous after the talk than before the talk.

I don’t know what it is, but the other speakers felt relieved after the speech. I paced back, forth, up, and around the museum. I felt like one of Jim Groom’s GIFs the way I kept looping through emotions. Not sure why.

3. My reason for rapping came from a Dance Dance Revolution session.

I’ll leave it at that.

I’ve spent enormous amounts of time thinking through the speech, but once I got up there, I just started to talk naturally. I appreciated the support because I felt I got a lot more personal than I usually do. The intimate audience helped with that. Big shout-outs to Basil Kolani and Karen Blumberg for inviting me to share this pertinent story to friends and perfect strangers alike.

I shoot for the moon, but I’m too busy gazing at stars. I feel amazing, in awe …

Jose, who goes back to teaching for real tomorrow …

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I don’t know if I should reveal this, but, oh well. When I was approached months ago about becoming a speaker for TEDxNYED, I did my usual nod of approval and, “Cool.” I felt a certain surprise about being asked to speak to people I consider colleagues about my passions. Plus, I felt honored because, well, at the time, I still wondered how many people were paying attention. Slowly, I started to research what I haven’t heard in any TEDx thus far. It’s hard to sift through thousands of minutes of footage from all the edu-TEDs in the entire library. After looking at some of TED speeches I loved (and the ones I didn’t), I realized one very important thing:

This stuff is a LOT harder than teaching.

Don’t get me wrong: attending to 300 professional and attentive adults makes for a better audience at times than 30 students with different needs, attention levels, and amounts of breakfast. The consequences of not having a good lesson plan matter more than any speech I’ve written, and the difference I make with my pedagogy have bigger implications for how this small set of students approach math, something I can’t guarantee with hundreds of listeners of my piece. There’s a whole set of pieces involved with writing a lesson plan too: the activity after they’ve heard me speak, the assignments I create from that day on, and the entire lesson revolves around a larger set of lessons called a unit, and a unit is a part of a curriculum for just that grade. While learning isn’t linear, the domino effect of me not having my stuff together for that one day may matter a lot for their competence in math throughout their careers.


On the other hand, with this speech, I only have one shot. That’s it. No more. I got a lot of time to practice, consult, replicate, nitpick, rehearse, and take shots of rum to calm the nerves. Once the speech is done, though, that’s it. No mas. You messed up? Too bad. Nowadays, you’ll even get the YouTube replays of all your missteps, miscues, and the time you picked your nose after you laughed at your joke. Double negative. The anticipation builds, and every moment you have to think about the speech, you think, “Oh snap, I didn’t mean to say that at all. I practiced this, but I said this. Come on, man!” You’re given all the control … which gives you practically all the responsibility.

Don’t be too self-centered, but don’t forget to talk about yourself. Don’t be too long, but don’t be too short. Stay calm, but get energetic. Speak calmly, but not softly. Act like you know what you’re talking about, but don’t be too cocky.

All the while, you’re wondering: can we get on with it already!?

Actually, that’s a lot like the classroom.

I’m already ready to go. I just need the audience and the time. Lights. Camera. Let’s do this.

Jose, who will be speaking at TEDxNYED on Saturday. If you can’t make it, check the livestream that will be announced on the website.


Running To The Edge

March 7, 2011 Jose

Dennis Littky, radical educator and co-founder of Big Picture Learning, wowed everyone with his TEDxNYED speech on Saturday. The man with the colorful kufi and grey beard might have struck the unsuspecting (and uninformed) as discordant in contrast to the business casual of the rest of the crowd or aloof because of their own prejudices, […]

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My 7 Great Ideas and Themes Behind #TEDxNYED 2011

March 6, 2011 Jose

Despite my expected candor about the state of education conferences like these, I also reserve the right to speak on the ideas without attacking the person (because, for some reason, using the name of anyone in the edu-tech pantheon makes you vulnerable to fan-boy snipers and gasping doubters clutching their jewels). My TEDxNYED experience started […]

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The Reality of Dan, Diana, Andy, Michael … and TED (On The Future of Teaching)

March 2, 2011 Jose

I thought the writing break might last longer. The bug got me. Here’s my latest at the Future of Teaching blog. Excerpt: A good step in that direction is the edcamps and unconferences springing across the country. However, even they can get bogged down by the ideas of structure, even when the solution is right […]

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Validating Blogs #4080: Indirect People Are Shadyyyy

March 18, 2010 Jose
C'Mon Son: Star Wars Edition

Last week, after attending the awesome TEDxNYED, I found myself yearning for more of that collaborative energy. Everytime I thought I was done reflecting on some of the ideas presented, I find another opportunity to immediately use the knowledge acquired to something I’d already thought. For instance, I invited a group of educators and concerned […]

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