Today, the StoryStrong team had our first opportunity to reflect and debrief with one of our pilot teachers. The teacher recently completed the StoryStrong curriculum with his 9th grade Gifted and Talented English class.
The purpose of our debrief was to learn from him how the curriculum could be modified or tweaked to improve its implementation and effectiveness. The teacher provided terrific insights – many of them easy adjustments that can be made immediately. Ultimately, I was very pleased with the feedback that we received. A lot of positives and a number of constructive insights that will help us improve the product.
Towards the end of our session, one of my colleagues asked him, “Did you learn anything about any of your students that you didn’t already know?” The teacher’s response: “Absolutely.”
And with that response, StoryStrong was validated.
That is, after all, the ultimate purpose of the initiative – to build connections through personal narrative. This teacher shared with us that he was unaware of the artistic talents of one of his students and the prejudices experienced by another based on her religion. Through the StoryStong personal narratives, he was able to understand experiences and desires that have shaped the lives of students in his class. This is such valuable knowledge that most teachers don’t have the luxury of knowing.
Moving forward, this teacher can leverage these interests to help inspire his students to do more. He can continue to enrich these connections by simply talking about the experiences that they opened up about.
It is our hope that this is just the beginning – that StoryStrong is going to result in greater genuine connections between students and teachers, students and students, and teachers and their colleagues.