The Most Amazing Teacher in the World: Cornelius Minor
This week at the #TCRWP I had the honor of learning from Cornelius Minor. There are hundreds of reasons why I think he is the best teacher in the world, but here are 5 that really spoke to me. (Someone please pat me on the back for the reasons v. example work I did here)
1. He takes risks in the name of his kids.
When he lost two students to gang violence in the same week, he created a text set to help them deal with the tragedies. His principal said no, but Cornelius did it anyway. When his students were spending time causing trouble at another school, he enticed them with books that would help them understand the ladies. They read Twilight, Gossip Girl, etc. with enthusiasm, all for the goal of learning about the ladies.
2. He turns his kids into advocates for themselves.
At the beginning of the year, he has students identify three adults outside their teachers and parents who can help them be successful. During class he has them use a script and call these adults and say that they will be needing help this year. In addition, he has them identify places outside of home where work can be completed, if home is not an option. He even teaches his kids how to have tough conversations with their parents about their academic success.
3. He is is constantly aware of progress.
Whenever a student speaks, Cornelius is assessing them. whether it is in class, in the hallway, on the playground. Whether it is to him, a peer, another adult or on the phone. He is constantly monitoring their progress. He has a neat little google sheet he uses to track how often they demonstrate a skill. He subtly pushes them toward higher thinking.
4. He makes their work live in the real world.
He went around town and found places to display student work so they had an authentic audience. He went to the corner store where all his kids gets breakfast, spoke with the proprietor and posted student work. He posts in the laundromat in his neighborhood. Suddenly, their work is public and their peers read it while standing around. In addition, he connects his classroom with classrooms around the world virtually to allow for genuine peer critiquing.
5. He is a teacher-techie.
Cornelius uses Evernote, Google Hangout, Text Compactor, Google Docs, Announcify, Twitter, Genius Scan, and I could go on. He uses these tools not just to make his life easier, but to teach kids to be producers of text, not simply consumers.
Cornelius, thank you so much for inspiring me and helping begin this adventure.