Dad. Warrior-nerd for the cause of powerful education. Bringing pens to swordfights since 1978.
Cornelius Minor is a Brooklyn-based educator and part-time Pokemon trainer. He works with teachers, school leaders, and leaders of community-based organizations to support equitable literacy reform in cities (and sometimes villages) across the globe. His latest book, We Got This, explores how the work of creating more equitable school spaces is embedded in our everyday choices — specifically in the choice to really listen to kids.
My job as a teacher is not to merely teach the curriculum or even to just teach the students; it is to seek to understand my kids as completely as possible so that I can purposefully bend and remix curriculum to meet them.
Cornelius has been featured in Education Week, Brooklyn Magazine, and Learning for Justice. He has partnered with The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, The New York City Department of Education, The International Literacy Association, Scholastic, and Lesley University’s Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative. Out of Print, a documentary featuring Cornelius, made its way around the film festival circuit, and he has been a featured speaker at conferences all over the world. He is a dedicated Hip hop fan, and on some evenings, you can find him online saving the universe with his PlayStation or on paper saving the realm in Dungeons & Dragons.
Most recently, along with his partner and wife, Kass Minor, he has established The Minor Collective, a community-based movement designed to foster sustainable change in schools. Whether working with educators and kids in Los Angeles, Seattle, or New York City, Cornelius uses his love for technology, literature, and social media to bring communities together. As a teacher, Cornelius draws not only on his years teaching middle school in the Bronx and Brooklyn, but also on time spent skateboarding, shooting hoops, and working with young people.
These days, Cornelius spends time building elaborate Lego structures with his two young children, searching for an elusive pair of Jordan IVs, and is ritually re-reading all of the 1990’s era comic books that he can find
Cornelius has worked closely with departments and grade teams on three continents to think about building in-classroom experiences for children that recognize their unique experiences, literacies, proficiencies and needs.
We know that learning experiences are not “one-size-fits-all” pursuits, but often in school, curriculum is presented that way, and the kids who don’t fit are often labeled as “bad” or “behind”.
Cornelius is particularly gifted about building assessments that teach us who students are, and at using that data to build learning that is responsive and flexible. He talks about some of that work here: https://youtu.be/dhtjoOFvtyI
Sometimes the challenges that we face as educators can feel huge. We are not just concerned with learning, we are concerned about all of the things that amplify it — identity, belonging, safety, and policies that impact our students.
We cannot mandate our way through the issues that our communities face. Viable solutions must be communal ones that teams of educators co-create together. They require creative thinking, careful measurement, and consistent reflection.
Cornelius is masterful at using inquiry to craft a way through the kind of difficulty that we often face in school communities.
With so much expected of educators, Cornelius has had to master ways of working that honor student needs while honoring his own nuanced humanity as someone who has life and happiness outside of school. Working with that kind of sensitivity has been critical to the growth of so many school communities. Thinking about what is good for kids means that we also have to think about what is good for us. What will grow us? What are the tools and structures that can amplify what we do with young people, and how can we find the space to rest and recharge in an ecosystem that always wants more?
Cornelius’s work is centered in the reality that educators are human, and that our work can be so much more powerful when we work from that place.
Working with Cornelius Minor has been like working with a close friend. Cornelius quickly assessed our district needs by practicing research-decide-teach to tailor his professional learning to meet district, school and most importantly student needs. He coached district and school personnel through a student-centered lens that allowed participants to go forth and put into practice research-based strategies and techniques. We are grateful for our partnership with Cornelius and look forward to continuing the collaboration for years to come.
Erica Bissell, Ed.D.
Coordinator of Reading and Language Arts