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We Got This.

Equity, Access, and the Quest to Be Who Our Students Need Us to Be

By Cornelius Minor
Foreword by Kwame Alexander

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. Cornelius Minor identifies tools, attributes, and strategies that can augment our listening, allowing us to make powerful moves toward equity by broadening access to learning for all children.

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“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.”

(click any section below to continue reading)

Podcast

Contents

Foreword, Kwame Alexander

Acknowledgments

Introduction: We All Want Better

PART 1

This Ain’t Everybody’s Hero Story—It’s Yours

1. Begin by Listening

How Listening Can Help 

How to Listen to What Students Are Really Communicating 

How to Ensure That Your Lessons Speak to What Students Say They Need

2. You Can Disrupt the Status Quo in Your Class 

Question the Things That Define Your Classroom Culture 

Identify Any Groups That Consistently Benefit Less from the Way Things Are 

Change the Way You Do School So That Kids Have More Opportunities to Succeed

3. Do Your Homework and Then Go for It 

Identify Why Change Needs to Happen 

Do a Little Bit of Research 

Decide What to Do and Make a Plan 

Execute the Plan 

Find a Productive Way to Say No 

PART 2

Taking Your Dreams off Deferment 

4. Show Kids That You Hear Them 

Plan for and Hold Regular Class Meetings to Maintain Community 

Designate Specific Kids Who Can Give You Feedback 

Shift from a Punitive to an Instructive Mind-Set 

5. Make Curriculum Work for Your Kids 

Use a Universal-Design-for-Learning Framework to Make Learning Accessible 

Understand Exactly What You’re Being Asked to Do 

Understand What Test Prep Is Really Asking You to Do 

6. Being a Good Teacher Versus Being a Good Employee 

Engage in Imaginative Mind-Set Work 

Gather a PR Team as You Make a Plan to Be Better for Kids 

Bring It Back to the Classroom 

Epilogue: The Gravity of Our Work

Samples

Companion Resources

Poster 1 Poster 2 Poster 3 Poster 4 Poster 5 Poster 6
 

Lesson Plan Thinking Chart
Listening to Kids Organizer

Thinking About the Kids in My Classroom (2 pp)

Question That Help Guide Change
An Informal Research Template
A Guide for Planning Change Quickly
An Articulation Plan for Saying What You Really Mean (2 pp)

Blueprint for Shifting Your Mind-Set from Punitive to Proactive

Sample Questions That Help Me Understand What I'm Being Asked to Teach (2 pp)

Tool to Engage in Imaginative Mind-Set Work
Communication Plan
Three-Part Plan for In-Classroom Work
Reflection on Teaching Practice

Related PD Services

PD Resources From Cornelius Minor

Speakers

Workshops