"That's the problem with you, Minor" a student huffed. "You want to make everything about reading or math. It's not always about that. At school, you guys do everything except listen to me. Y'all want to use your essays and vocabulary words to save my future, but none of y'all know anything about saving my now."
In We Got This Cornelius Minor describes how this conversation moved him toward realizing that listening to children is one of the most powerful things a teacher can do. By listening carefully, Cornelius discovered something that kids find themselves having to communicate far too often. That "my lessons were not, at all, linked to that student's reality."
While challenging the teacher as hero trope, We Got This shows how authentically listening to kids is the closest thing to a superpower that we have. What we hear can spark action that allows us to make powerful moves toward equity by broadening access to learning for all children. A lone teacher can't eliminate inequity, but Cornelius demonstrates that a lone teacher can confront the scholastic manifestations of racism, sexism, ableism and classism by showing:
exactly how he plans and revises lessons to ensure access and equity
ways to look anew at explicit and tacit rules that consistently affect groups of students unequally
suggestions for leaning into classroom community when it feels like the kids are against you
ideas for using universal design that make curriculum relevant and accessible
advocacy strategies for making classroom and schoolwide changes that expand access to opportunity to your students
"We cannot guarantee outcomes, but we can guarantee access" Cornelius writes. "We can ensure that everyone gets a shot. In this book we get to do that. Together. Consider this book a manual for how to begin that brilliantly messy work. We got this."
About the Author
Cornelius Minor is a Brooklyn-based educator. He works with teachers, school leaders, and leaders of community-based organizations to support equitable literacy reform in cities (and sometimes villages) across the globe. His latest book, We Got This, explores how the work of creating more equitable school spaces is embedded in our everyday choices - specifically in the choice to really listen to kids. He has been featured in Education Week, Brooklyn Magazine, and Teaching Tolerance Magazine. He has partnered with The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, The New York City Department of Education, The International Literacy Association, and Lesley University's Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative. Out of Print, a documentary featuring Cornelius made its way around the film festival circuit, and he has been a featured speaker at conferences all over the world. Most recently, along with his partner and wife, Kass Minor, he has established The Minor Collective, a community-based movement designed to foster sustainable change in schools. Whether working with educators and kids in Los Angeles, Seattle, or New York City, Cornelius uses his love for technology, hip-hop, and social media to bring communities together. As a teacher, Cornelius draws not only on his years teaching middle school in the Bronx and Brooklyn, but also on time spent skateboarding, shooting hoops, and working with young people. You can connect with him at Kass and Corn, or on Twitter at @MisterMinor.