Often I talk about students becoming empowered to develop and position their 'brand' as learners, both in the classroom and the real world. Why? Because when it all comes down to what matters, it's about being a story-teller. Better yet, it's about inviting others into a story and co-creating it together. No story, no emotion. No story, no connection. No story, no buy-in.
This morning, I read "What's in a Story" over at the Ed Tech Journeys blog. I couldn't have spent a better chunk of the early part of the day if I had come up with a dozen options. Here's a snippet, although I was tempted to add the entire post word-for-word. It's that good:
First: How successful we are in transforming education is dependent on the stories we tell.
Second: So what is your story? If we had a few minutes in an elevator and we were shooting the breeze, or you were standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, what story would you tell about educational technology in your district?
Would you tell me you had 1200 computers?
Would you let me know that you had purchased a Smartboard for every classroom?
Would you speak about high speed, fiber optic lines or a wireless school?
Would your story be a complaint that you want to do great things with technology; but the staff or leadership “don’t get it”?
Would your story be full of hope? Or frustration?
Would your story be “Big”? Or would it be about what you think is “realistically possible”?
Would your story stir my heart? Or be a litany of “reason”?
Would it sound like a call to action? Or like a wish list of items to be purchased?
Would it have hero’s?
What struggles did they have?
How did they grow along the way?
Finally: Some of us have crafted a great educational technology story but it isn’t resonating with people. Look to see if the story is “in your head” or coming from your heart. When you have the right story and it is delivered from the right place, the results can be remarkable.
The reality is that we are our stories. We don’t tell stories; we live them. If we live them with conviction, they will come to life in our actions and through our gifts.
It’s our story. We live it every day. Will it have meaning and impact, or will it be a small story that is ignored by those around us? It’s our choice. What story do you want to tell?
For me, it used to be about analyzing novels when I thought about my view of education. Ask me today, and whether it be novels or mathematical formula or scientific beakers or whatever subject tool you use, and I'd say that education at its heart comes down to story. As Ed Tech Journeys reminds, even the technology issue in schools is ultimately about what story you tell and whether you bring your audience and team along with you.
Not just facts or answers or results. Not just techniques or strategies or 5-paragraph paper reminder lists. Not just 1:to:1 or PowerPoint presentations or filmstrips. Not quizzes or tests or filling in the bubbles.
Ultimately, it is the chase of a story, the telling of a story, the unfolding of a story, the imagination of the story, the next chapter of a story, the campfire of the story, the grab-you-by-the-curiosity of the story that separates one student from the other, separates one teaching style from the other, separates one college admissions essay from another, separates one professor's ability to take notice of you in the lecture hall from the others, separates the applicant in the hiring process from the others, and separates our fully complex lives from the others.
If you can tell a story, you have an audience. If you tell a great story, you have a great audience. If you invite others to create that story with you, you have something far deeper.