This was a fascinating read the other night…
Kathleen: One of the things I saw in the organizations that I interviewed is that they prioritize storytelling, not only at the executive director or CEO level, but at every single level of the organization. Everyone within the organization can be a brand ambassador for the cause, whether it’s a staff member who happens to be at a cocktail party and comes across a donor, or whether it’s a beneficiary talking to a funder about the effectiveness of the work.
Some of the organizations that I interviewed actually did storytelling practice in their staff meetings. IDEO.org does this storytelling roulette where they spin a wheel, and on the spot, a staff member has to tell a story about a project that they worked on. It’s that repetitive practice that really helps build storytelling skills.
Nadine: One of the great benefits of doing that is that within the organization, it builds cohesion and alignment around the messaging and the brand. It’s really a powerful internal development tool, as well as an external development tool.
How are you empowering both staff and students to tell the story of learning at your site? I just spent a day of professional learning with every teacher in our district. Based on an activity in Ron Ritchhart’s Creating Cultures of Thinking, we looked at the story of learning we were told growing up through beliefs, behaviors, expectations, etc. Phrases such as compliance, tracking, and worksheets kept rising up.
Our district has already spent a year researching what education should look like for our students. We met with industry experts, read countless books, went to conferences across the country, and most importantly, talked to our stakeholders: students, parents, staff, and community.
With this information, as well as some video and article reads during our professional learning day, we began crafting a new story of education; one that values the unique geniuses of all students through strong instructional practices that promote student agency, collaboration, personalization, cultural intelligence, and design thinking. Our new story has much different phrases:
So how do we build a storytelling culture amongst all our stakeholders? That’s the next chapter we’re writing.
How are you telling your story? Do you have a storytelling culture, or is a lone storyteller writing your book?
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