The Power of Story

A little peek into our brainstorming

“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.” -Madeleine L’Engle

I  love Tuesdays.  Tuesdays provide a break from my regular hectic schedule.  Every Tuesday morning, the literacy coaches in my district meet.  It's our time to talk about district initiatives, share what's happening in our buildings, and just generally support each other in our jobs.  I always leave our meetings feeling energized for the upcoming week. There's something about hanging out with others who "get you" and welcome those conversations that push your thinking.  

Once a month our large group breaks into smaller focus groups.  Our group's task today was to meet with the district web designer, Kelly, to discuss the new literacy website.  This is no small task, but gather 6 women who like to think big, and the task can soon become pretty daunting.

Our ideas were flowing as Molly jotted our thinking on the white board. It wasn't long before purple ink filled the board, our lists becoming longer and more complicated.  One idea spurred another idea, which led to another idea.  Where would we even begin?  You could feel the enormity of the task settle in on us.

And then Kelly asked us a simple question.

"What if instead of creating a typical website, we created a space where we could tell teachers' stories?"

Tell teachers' stories?  It was brilliant!  We all know the power of stories.  Stories bring us together.  Stories ground us. We learn from each other's stories.    Don't we begin our year by asking our students to share their stories?   These stories become the foundation of our writing workshops and make our community stronger.

Teachers have stories to share too.  We don't hear them often enough...stories of celebration, stories of frustration and being in over your head, stories of determination and success.  Each and every story is integral to who a teacher is.  They are important and they need to be told.

Kelly's simple question changed our all-been-tried-before website idea into something dynamic.    We tossed around more ideas, decided on a place to start and created a plan to gather stories.  We ended our meeting with a sense of purpose and excitement.

Kelly was able see what we couldn't see.  Sometimes it takes someone with a different lens to sort through the mess to find the gem that's buried deep inside.  She sat back quietly, took it all in, and helped us find our story.

Please stop by Two Writing Teachers to read other Slice of Life stories.


  1. How fabulous, Julie, I hope you'll share more about this. A few years ago, we had a new head of school who asked some of us to write a piece about becoming a teacher, and then we took turns sharing at staff meeting. I loved doing it, but loved even more hearing others' stories. Your website will be so powerful! Merry Christmas to you and your children, old and young!

  2. I love this idea! Part of the reason I love being a co-author on TWT is to tell stories of my classroom and my teaching. I think teacher's voices aren't always heard and our experiences are powerful and need to be shared. Do teachers in your district frequently write and share their stories? Just wondering how you will organize this endeavor. My district started the year by having different chairpeople and administrators share their "Why"- why they became an educator. Their stories were captivating and so much better than a typical opening school conference day lecture. I'm thinking Padlet could be a great way to get teachers to share that "why" if they aren't comfortable sharing a whole blog post at first. Please keep us posted on how this goes!

  3. This sounds like a really special project! Teacher's stories! So much power! Have you read Newkirk's new book about the power of story? Really great stuff!

  4. Julie,
    As I read I could all the voices adding to the ideas of those before them as Molly's marker faded more and more. I can't wait to see the new website!!!

  5. To be honest, telling the stories is a real lif-saving skill. Whil we were getting divorced, my attorney who helped with custody (here is his profile, if you need it came with great support to me an my child!


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