Be sure to listen to them. Be sure to read them. Be sure to write them. Be sure to draw them. Be sure to tell them. Stories. Stories matter. The more the better.
As an educator, I often reflect on how important sharing our stories may help others. Students may see us in a different light and learn from us in ways that go beyond knowing us as an educator. Colleagues see us in ways that acknowledge who we are as people. Think about it. Our stories not only define us, they bring us closer together as humans.
Why do we tell stories? We tell stories to others to learn more about ourselves through self-reflection. Brian McDonald writes, “Stories teach us how to live.” (Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories That Resonate). It’s not only the visible ink, the words that we read or hear but it’s the invisible ink underneath the words. The invisible ink is what you cannot see; it is what you feel and think.
Stories are important because they define us. Stories can and do overlap. I recently watched a Ted Talk entitled, “The Danger of A Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In her Ted Talk, she cautions us to be wary of the single story. In fact, she tells us to reject the single story. Why? The reason is simple. Hearing only a single story about a person or a country fosters misunderstanding. We must always engage in multiple narratives.
It is important to own your story. Telling a story, especially one that is challenging, is courageous.
As Brene Brown shares in her book, Rising Strong, one of my most recent reads,
“We are the authors of our lives. We write our own daring endings.
Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”
Why do I share this quote with you? I will tell you why. You want to be the authors of your story. Believe me, someone else telling your story is not what you want to happen.
So, think about it. Think about writing your story.
A story that is interesting, meaningful and one you want to tell! How?
- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable – it’s the greatest measure of courage – it means you are brave and are showing up and engaging in life
Being vulnerable means that If you are going to put yourself out there and experience life to the fullest — you will experience sadness. Being vulnerable means you are open to taking risks, trying new things, and ready to experience failure. Being vulnerable means being courageous!
And guess what? It’s ok. It’s ok to fall. When you fall, you get back up, you dust yourself off, learn the most and as Brene Brown says, “rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness in our lives; it’s the process that teaches us the most about who we are.”
After a fall, I don’t know about you but that’s when my best learning happens, when deep reflection happens and a more profound understanding about myself and others happens. I call these falls “teachable moments.”
So how do you own your story? I like how Brene Brown nails it down in 3 ways:
- Be you – walk into your own story
- Be all in – write & own your own story
- Fall. Get up. Write a new ending and change how you engage in the world!
Remember: there is choice in how we tell our stories. There are so many creative ways to tell and share stories on social media nowadays. Think about it. You can share your words, images, sound and video. This is powerful. The power of story is everywhere.
A friend of mine, Debbie Donsky, shares her stories openly on her blog and she illustrates how life is a mixture of how we learn, how we create, how we connect and how we reflect connected to the many roles we play. Her stories inspire, provoke and are real. You should read them.
How do I tell stories? I tell stories visually and sometimes include short text. Instagram is big for me – professionally and personally. Why? Think of the idiom, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Images tell stories. By adding in text with the image, each post is a short form novel and the series of posts in turn create a meaningful story that is told over time.
I wonder out loud with you as an educator:
- How are we providing opportunities for students to tell their stories?
- How are we responding to the stories of our students?
- How are we ensuring that students engage in many stories?
Sharing a story is social. We humans like the social because that how we learn, grow and reflect.
I am always ready for a story. How about you?
Lisa Neale, Principal – HWDSB