Rattling around the dimly lit corners of the teachers’ lounge and shuttered mall locations of Successories nationwide, one can find the oft-quoted sentiment that teaching may well be the greatest act of optimism.
However, I would argue that today’s teacher is far more likely to embody optimism by learning.
When we stretch, scrutinize, professionally and personally grow, challenge, inquire, and courageously push ourselves to learn for the sake of better understanding and connecting to our students, then we are better educators and better leaders and better agents of change in our classrooms.
Because we need far more than optimism. We need realism.
At the upcoming NCTE conference this November in Houston, Texas, a convention focused around raising student voice, the passionate crew from Three Teachers Talk will be honored to share with a you a talk entitled, “Accomplice”-ing Great Things: An Action Plan for Equity, Inclusivity, and Allied Partnerships in ELA Classrooms.
Additionally, in the realm of hardcore fangirling, I am pinching myself to report that the incredible, incomparable, inimitable Cornelius Minor has agreed to be our Chair for the session. As Lead Staff Developer for Columbia University’s Reading and Writing Project, Mr. Minor is a tour de force in the fight for equity in the classroom whose passion and persistence is blessedly catching to all those who yearn to do better and be better for our students.
The crew at Three Teachers Talk has been in love with Cornelius Minor for years. I had the pleasure of first hearing Mr. Minor speak at the 2016 NCTE conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I recall being so struck by his words that I uncharacteristically approached him after the session. My thanks for his message turned into some sort of incoherent blubbering, I’m sure, but Mr. Minor smiled that blazing smile he’s known for and gave me a hug saying, “We’ll talk soon, ok?”
Maybe my teacher universe didn’t really pitch wildly at that moment, forever altering the trajectory of my work with students, but really, it did.
Among countless brilliant insights Cornelius shared that morning in Atlanta, I was particularly struck by his statement that it’s our job as educators to teach children how to “maintain partnerships” in order to “define our culture.” I recalled this statement recently as Amy, Shana, and I brainstormed on ways to best share our ideas at the NCTE’s 2018 Convention – Raising Student Voice.
Thus, our work as accomplices to our students came to the forefront of our planning, and a few things became clear.
Chief among them; We cannot become who students need us to be if we act alone.
This work toward equity is deeply personal, beautifully nuanced, and to many of us, it is brilliantly new. We are in a constant state of knowing that for far too many children, there is a savage gulf between what education promises and what education is.
We know the research. Girls are underrepresented in science and technology. Children of color continue to be suspended at exponential rates compared to their white peers. Poor children are more likely to attend schools with fewer resources. These outcomes are sexist. They are racist. They are classist. School, as an institution, continues to perpetuate them. We can change this, and we are certain that the way forward is together.
In the spirit of moving forward together, we’ve invited Cornelius to join us for a very special Twitter chat.
So that we can share as much as possible, we’ll be using an “Ask Me Anything” chat format. AMAs, as they are commonly called, are a little different from traditional Twitter chats.
Cornelius will be moderating, but he won’t be posing the questions. You will!
For one hour, you will be able to ask Cornelius anything about literacy, education, equity, activism or Fortnite.
We’re looking forward to seeing where this goes! We’ll put a little bit about Cornelius below so you can get to know him before the chat. Feel free to comment below too with any questions that you hope he’ll answer as we Tweet the night away.
Can’t wait to see you in the Twittersphere!
Thursday, May 10th at 8:00 p.m. (EST) / 7:00 p.m. (CST)!
Here’s a sampling of some of Mr. Minor’s recent (brilliant) thinking:
“We Can Do Better” from the March/April publication of ILA’s Literacy Today.
“Five Steps to Launching a Schoolwide Social Justice Movement” from Education Week Teacher
A two-part interview conducted with Laura Hancock at Literacy Junkie
What questions do you have for Cornelius Minor? Leave them in the comment section below as we look forward to watching Cornelius’s fingers fly over the keys on May 10th! Please join us and spread the word for this important discussion with one of today’s foremost educational leaders on equity.