Isabel Sawyer's picture

Tell Me a Story

I have recently been asked to read the book Change by Design, by Tim Brown, for our organizational retreat. Betty Ray wrote an excellent blog on using design thinking in the classroom—check it out here.

Brown’s chapter on “Spreading the Message, or, the Importance of Storytelling” intrigues me. He writes that more good ideas die within the organization before they even reach the community—because there are not enough stories told about why we, as a community, need a good idea. Storytelling all along the way, as a part of the design process (both at the beginning of a project and at the end) helps keep the project alive. Storytelling allows participants to see themselves in the dilemma and thus develop ownership and empathy around the idea.

At the heart of any good story is the central narrative about how an idea fulfills a need in some powerful way. Every character should have a sense of purpose. It should be convincing but not overwhelm us with detail; but should have enough detail to ground it in plausible reality. I love this quote:

Though it’s not always necessary to make your audience cry, a good story well told should deliver a powerful emotional punch.

I use storytelling all the time in my teaching. I also use it in my professional development sessions. While reading about the importance of storytelling I kept reflecting on my speech about the Being a Writer program and its power in the classroom with the APA group and the story I shared. Here is a link.

How do you use storytelling in your work?

Isabel Sawyer, PhD, is a Regional Director at Center for the Collaborative Classroom. She presents keynotes, workshops, presentations, and professional development for teachers, literacy coaches, and administrators across the country. Previously Isabel worked as a lead instructional coach for Albemarle County Public Schools and as an instructional coordinator for an inner-city school in Charlottesville, Virginia. Isabel holds her PhD from the University of Virginia and serves as an adjunct instructor in UVA's Curry School of Education. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences and worked with schools across the country as an independent consultant. 

 

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