“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.”

 

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