How to Develop a Library of Stories

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The word belonging came up at the Jim Knight training I attended yesterday and several times this week. Belonging is a large component of engagement which is a buzzword in education right now, but applies to everyone. Everyone has the need to belong which can mean simply to have friends and to be part of a tribe. Sometimes we find these people in real life and sometimes they are online.

One practice of how we connect with another human is through stories.

Developing a library of stories is the biggest takeaway for me from yesterday’s training. A library of stories is basically a cheat sheet to jog your memory when you need a story to illustrate a point or for entertainment. It could be on a physical piece of paper, it could be a list in your phone or a mapped graphic organizer at the back of your planner. It is a tool. It is similar to how I use my Goodreads list. Whenever someone asks what me I have read lately, my mind immediately goes blank. I often will open Goodreads to jar my memory. A library of stories is a similar tool.

Telling stories is one of the most important things we can do as people. It is how our brains work and also connects us to people! Stories are part of why I am a writer and an educator.

Storytelling is an effective practice for engagement. They are quite effective for fostering hope.

A few components to keep in mind:

  1. The story needs a purpose to the story – a why to why you are telling it. In the classroom it is likely to demonstrate concept or key idea. It may be humor or just a show of a similar situation.
  2. Effective stories CANNOT BE LAME. They should be concise, vivid, surprising, and emotional – but maybe not all at the same time.
  3. You audience must identify with the story you have chosen.

Using stories can help you illustrate the ideas you are trying to teach or portray. Danny Bauer talks about core value stories. His story of tenacity is portrayed with a story about honeybadgers. Doing the most important thing first is illustrated with the BIG DOMINO story. I remember these concepts because of the stories he told. Check out his podcast to hear the stories for yourself.

How to:

To develop a library for stories create a timeline from birth until today. The beauty is you can keep this paper (larger size might be better) for you to capture story ideas with a few words so that when you need to pull a story for a lesson or situation they are gathered in one place. You scan and choose.

List people.

List events.

List the stories that go with each using a few words.

When I first did this activity I was shocked how difficult it was for me to come up with events and people. It might have been due to the fact Knight told us the exercise should take 90 minutes and we were doing it in 2 minutes.

BUT… when I woke up this morning this idea was still with me. On the commute to my writers retreat I decided I would go through each age and see if I could recall stories that corresponded. The ones that emerged on the paper yesterday were the ones that I often tell. Several of them I have even written about on the blog. There were a few that I had forgotten about like the story I shared in my small group about a surprisingly difficult exercise class that left me uncharacteristically sore for days! It even hurt to breathe. I am sure if I would have had more time and it wasn’t 20 minutes before the end of the workshop I would have had more things to write.

A couple months ago I had made a list of 25 life altering moments based on a business book I was reading so I am going to find that list in whatever notebook it is in and add it to my timeline.

Moving forward, one idea Knight shared was to roll this idea out to teachers and then have check ins to talk about the stories they were using with students. I would love to start this practice. It would not only help the students strengthen relationships with teachers but it would cement the bond between educators.

What do you think of a library of stories? Do you like the idea of a timeline? Do you like the idea of a list? Is there a story you tell over and over?

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Fine, Fine Professional Development and Llama Tuesday

Better Conversations – Jim Knight

I have been wowed this year by some amazing PD. The Better Conversations workshop was a full day. The participants found clock partners from the room which was filled with Coaches from my district and 3 surrounding states. We all stood up and found 12 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 8 o’clock partners and wrote their name down. We found them later for each section of the workshop as directed by Jim.

Jim joked that he is from Canada and he wouldn’t do anything goofy. It was a well-run workshop that was worthwhile and life-giving. 

One of the activities centered around 5 questions that I have been using since that Thursday of training. They seem simple. The exercise we used was to ask our partner the question and then give them 1 minute to answer and we could not talk. It was eye-opening.

Communication is essential for a fulfilled life yet we are all so bad at it sometimes.

Bungay’s 5 Coaching Habit Questions

  1. What’s on your mind?
  2. What’s the real challenge?
  3. What else?
  4. What do you want?
  5. What was the most useful from this conversation?

It was odd how personal and intimate the conversations became with a stranger – even though the thinking before the exercise was to not get too personal in many of the pairs. I still plan to use the exercise with my teachers at a Workshop Wednesday. Conversation is supposed to be nourishing for both parties. These questions are helping me use my #oneword for the year – CONNECT.

It is Llama TUESDAY!!!