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Posts Tagged ‘Cornelius Minor’

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We started our first Monday together with this quote. I introduced notebook writing. Begin with a quote, talk a bit about it, then write for 10 minutes. Writing alongside my students gives me great joy. I’ve missed this over the summer and happy to have it back.

Here’s a little peek into my notebook musings:

There’s a book by Parker Palmer with the title “The Courage to Teach.” I read it years ago, and I can’t remember much about it, but the title still resonates. I’m entering my 32nd year of teaching. I would be what they call a “veteran” teacher. You could say I’ve earned my grey hair, but I rarely feel like an expert. Everyday teaching requires courage. You must put aside the headache from lack of sleep (or lack of caffeine, or both), and be ready to listen and see each student as a child who needs you to love them, to know them, and to understand them.

Currently I am listening to Cornelius Minor’s book We Got This. I highly recommend it even though I’m just a few chapters in. Cornelius speaks of the courage to teach as well as the necessity that we be intentional with our every step. We need to teach in a way that meets the needs of our students. And we get to know these needs by listening.

I’m encouraged that what I do for my students (notebook writing, independent reading, etc.) are courageous steps toward being a compassionate teacher. I need to trust the years of experience to guide me and comfort me in the knowledge that I Got This. Courage doesn’t always roar. It’s a daily walk, a listening ear, and a loving heart.

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Saturday morning yoga, my instructor, Susan, says “You should not tell yourself that your body can’t do something. Challenge yourself to try, and your body may just surprise you.” So when she said we were going to do head stands, I stopped the “No way,” and said, “Ok. I’ll try.” I opened myself to her knowledgeable instruction. She guided me step by step. And when I was upside down, I felt powerful, giddy, invincible.

I want to take this learning into my classroom and into my teacher-self. Our school year begins on Wednesday. Scheduling is a nightmare for anyone who has to look at a master schedule and plan for all the various pull-outs and special classes. I am one of those teachers that messes up the master schedule. This year I will be servicing three schools. Three different schools with three different schedules pulling out gifted students in 5 different grade levels. I know you must be saying by now, impossible.

Teachers, isn’t that how we roll? Turning impossible into possible. Whatever it may be, a move to a new classroom, grade level, or position, a new administrator to get to know, a crazy schedule to make work, we put on our super hero capes and take off, letting the winds of self-doubt fly past us. Flexibility is in our stride.

 

If I can do a hand stand, I can go confidently into this school year. But just in case I need a guiding mantra, I made a Canva poster out of Cornelius’s charge and my friend, Dani Burtsfield’s photo from Glacier Park in Montana.

 

 

Be sure to join me in the new #TeachWrite chat on Monday, August 7th at 7:30 EST.  For more information and a list of questions, go to #TeachWrite Chat.

 

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Cornelius Minor is one of those people who tells it like it is, and you say to yourself, “Oh, yeah.”  I was first impressed by him at NCTE16 in Atlanta when he spoke about the influence of Donald Graves at the Heinemann breakfast.  I captured a quote from him that morning, “We do not teach for mastery. We teach for revolution.”

Cornelius is the kind of man you could walk up to and on the first meeting hug him. He represents what I want to be.  Someone who speaks up.  Someone who loves with all that he has.

This weekend I listened to a podcast with Cornelius on the Heinemann website.  Please take some time to listen.  He speaks of being an advocate for a student who needed him.  In his voice, you can hear his determination as well as his kindness.

I think sometimes we teachers shy away from advocacy for our students for many reasons.  The main one is fear.  Fear of repercussions.  Fear for our own reputation. Fear of failure (or firing).

At that same breakfast we were asked to create our own credo for teaching writing.  (Here is the podcast of that morning.) The statement I wrote encompasses my thoughts about advocacy.  We must listen to our students.  We have to listen without judgement.  Listen to be the best advocate we can be for them.

 

On Thursday evening, Cornelius Minor will be a guest on the Good2Great chat on Twitter.

To join our conversation, please leave a link to your blog post below. To read more posts about advocacy, click the link.

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