Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Essence of Teaching, er, the S's of Teaching: No. 1 - Story

Part One in a Series of Three

First is storytelling. Teachers are natural-born storytellers. Whether its anticipatory bellringer to catch the attention of sometimes reluctant learners or a personal anecdote to illuminate a point, teachers are telling stories. Of course some of us are reading or English teachers and "story" is in the job description. Our collegial cousins, the social studies instructors have "his-story-ical" accounts to retell. Yet, teachers in science, technology, and art, too, are storytellers of matter, microchips, and media.
Stories shape understanding.
As a first grade teacher plants seeds in half-pint milk cartons and the class watches the marigolds bloom by Mother's Day, a story of nature and nurture is demonstrated. As a geometry teacher gives a makeup exam, a story of second-chances it taught. As a coach rallies her team for the championship, a narrative of hard work, results, and love of the game is told.
Stories help teachers and students make meaning of the curriculum, ideas, and life. If you've never thought of it this way, then consider the stories you tell and how they tell you and your subject to your students. Next, scholarship . . .

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