The Full Circle

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dsc00652.JPGI love existential titles; don’t you?

Well two days ago, I completed my greatest public speaking gig I’ve ever had. I spoke for the NYC Teaching Fellows in front of 2000 or so people, most of which were new teachers in the program. I was anxious about 10 minutes before I had to make the speech, but next thing I know, I’m in the middle of speaking to all these teachers who really haven’t the slightest as to what they’re getting into.

It’s been a full circle trip for me. Two years ago, as part of Cohort 10, I was a new fresh face to the program, nervous but excited about this new career I got into. Now after those two wild years, I stood before them to share my story about how things are in the classroom.

I tried not to paint an extremely rosy picture, but I also laced it with the idealism that’s gotten me through the past two years (and will definitely get me through the next few years). Because of this program, I was given a chance I didn’t even think I had. I had thought about becoming a teacher ever since I was in college, but to become one (and one that people really love) is a whole ‘nother ballgame.

As for the speech itself, that went well. I spoke about the endless possibilities for students to achieve in urban schools and how I turned my life experience into a career in turning kids lives through the program. Of course, that sounds like candy to any teacher’s ears, but I also did my best to explain (especially for those not from urban communities) that it will be difficult, and that my example is only a snippet of what they should expect. After all, we can’t scare them off on opening week.

I really hope those 2000 or so student teachers come into our school system with the mentality that they’re not there to save the kids, but accept them for who they are and let them reach their own potential. Definite difference.

By the way, if you’re a Fellow who just found me, or just a new teacher in general, shoot me a message; I’ll be around …

jose, the new oldie …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 5

  1. Peg

    why is it so bad that I actually do want to “save” the kids! I do. One at a time. What is so wrong with that? Saving them doesn’t have to mean that I impose MY expectations on them. Please help me understand what is so wrong with being a new teacher that wants to save the world..one child at a time. Maybe the world needs more of us?! Your thoughts?…

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    Jose

    hahah, frankly, the mentality of “save the children” often has racist and classist undertones. People who come to “save the children” tend to think that the children themselves are on a lesser level, and thus, have to find a way to save them from their environment. It’s almost a pity / diss that I’m really not feeling. While I’m an optimist in the sense that I want every child to have a good, well-rounded, empowering education, I also don’t think that the kind of “save the world” mentality is a healthy approach either. In about 2-3 years (if not less) you’ll see what I mean. If not … G_d bless you.

  3. Rain

    I think I’ve come across your blog before–actually, I’m sure I have. But I am currently 10 days or less away from finding out if my DP status will turn into an acceptance. I think it is the longest ten days of my life!!!

    But it’s because of teachers like you–who have blogged honestly about the Teaching Fellows–that I am still “in” and eager to do this, even as I realize that it is going to be probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

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