A Personal Story About Teacherpreneurs the Book

Let me shake the cobwebs off my blog here and get readjusted to my new setting here. For those unaware, John Holland described the new format of our blogging here. This is nothing like Biggie and 2Pac, or even Paul McCartney and John Lennon. This is more like co-teachers who have different programs now. I’ll still see him at faculty meetings from time to time, and still crack jokes every once in a while at others’ expense.

Since the last time I wrote, anyone who’s followed TransformED or is connected somehow to what we do at the Center for Teaching Quality has heard of this book called Teacherpreneurs. In it, a few of your favorite teachers on this entire planet (and me) were interviewed about their present and future visions for teacher leadership through the lens of Barnett Berry, Ann Byrd, and Alan Weider.

Confession: when they came to my school, I felt a little trepidation. I’d known Barnett and Ann for years through my work on Teaching2030, writing for the org, and now as an honored board member for CTQ. I rarely invite people from my online world into my school because I’ve often trained myself to keep these two worlds separate. Oftentimes, working in NYC feels like you’re not given permission to seek professional aspirations out loud. You’re supposed to keep everything as quiet as possible until you’ve made your move. Those of us who break out to develop platforms outside of school have a hard time navigating our professional aspirations with this type of dynamic in school buildings.

However, because of my close ties with Barnett and Ann, I was fine with them coming to my school, interviewing my principal, fellow faculty, and my students. I felt most excited about letting them speak to my faculty and students, the real backbone of my experience at the school. But I also wanted them to get a sense for the work I do in the school. If, in fact, we were to blur the line of distinction between the teachers and the admin vis-a-vis teacher leadership and its evolutions, I had to wash away the line between “The Jose Vilson” from the online spaces I’ve created and occupied and let people in without reservation.

Thus, my interview in the book is one of my most extensive, honest interviews I’ve ever done. More importantly, we created a window for how urban educators can do both. In many ways, I was in the middle of teaching and leading, trying to develop a voice that didn’t depend on whether I was annointed for leadership or not while still trying to get people to understand that, yes, I teach hard.

Until the K-12 education field values teachers as expert in their experience (perhaps we need to as well), we will still find ourselves behind a glass window.