One of my favourite parts of my job is to visit schools around New Zealand and help them tell their curriculum story through video.
I have been interested in the process that schools go through when they let us into their place to help them tell their curriculum story. I find the whole process of 'storying' intriguing. By sitting down and taking the time to explore their own school story individually, and then telling the story to each other as they tell it to us, you can see new possibilities opening up.
Principals have told me that, after we leave, they can see even more possibilities for change and growth in their schools. It is as if our visit becomes a step in the process of change.
People construct identities through their talk in interaction with others
Greer Cavallaro Johnson mentions that 'people construct identities through their talk in interaction with others' (2009, p270). This is evident when you place a video camera in front of someone. They are not only telling you the story of their curriculum change, but also their place within that change. It is interesting to see them explore this narrative through a different lens. They have been active in the process, but the process of storying allows them to see what their place was in that process, and to reflect on the experience.
Telling stories is an interactional process
Greer also discussed the 'interactional process of how people tell and respond to stories' (2009, p275), which got me thinking about the part that we actually play in the storying process. By inviting the school to tell their curriculum story, we are providing a lens through which to look at what is happening in the school. We have a specific focus — that of curriculum development. We funnel what we see and what people tell us through this lens to reveal the parts that make up the change and the perceived outcomes. Next, we pull the story together, and present it back to the school. Prior to this, the school may not have taken the time to see how all the parts of the change process connect together. There are always many different initiatives occurring in schools, and sometimes those within the school do not see the interconnections between the initiatives and how they influence each other.
Story tellers are in charge of how they want to be heard
The last point I picked up from this paper was that 'storytellers are in charge of how they want to be heard' (2009, p281). I think, a lot of the time, in the process of telling us their stories, teachers and leaders see how they want things to be rather than how they might currently be. And this is the story they tell. It is a 'looking forward' story. And, hopefully, with telling us their story, reflecting on where they have been and where they are heading, schools find the process of telling their story an actual step in the process of making their story a reality.
Storying for professional learning, reflection, change, and growth
I believe that ‘storying’ is a very important process for reflection, change, and growth. It can be used effectively to help students tell the stories of each other, of their change, and for schools to tell the stories that are happening within. What a fabulous professional learning opportunity it would be for teachers to tell the stories of other teachers, and to help them see the change, growth, and connections that may not be evident from within. Imagine then combining those separate stories into the story of the school. How much could we learn from telling each other’s and our own stories?
Here is the latest curriculum story from NZC Online
Narrative inquiry and school leadership identities (2009) Greer Cavallaro Johnson
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