Shaping the Narrative

Narratives are very interesting, they influence perception, create connections and  deepen our understanding. One article looking at the power of narratives described how “narratives invite all of us to participate to help collectively determine the outcome.” This line resonated with me as I considered the current narrative surrounding education where I live. We are currently in the midst of an election and one of the more hotly contested races is taking place at the school board level. Based on what I read in the paper and on social media, the current narrative is one of mismanaged funds, poor communication and questionable assessment practices. I am not here to dispute whether these issues are valid or fair, that is for others to discuss. Instead, I am proposing that we as teachers actively participate in the shaping of this narrative, let’s build a story that celebrates the incredible work that is taking place within our schools. Celebrate our successes, champion the work of others and focus the attention on where it should be, on student learning.

Seth Godin speaks to how story is king. He discusses how the most innovative communities create a compelling story that people want to listen to. With social media we have the opportunity to participate and to collectively determine the narrative. What if we as teachers took the time to share one great thing that happened in our schools, what if when visiting the district hashtag on twitter, instead of seeing all of the problems, we read about powerful examples of learning? This is not about covering up our faults or pushing legitimate issues to the back-burner, this is about creating a narrative that accurately presents the work that is being done in our schools.  As teachers, we need to create a story that resonates, that connects with people and that challenges long held assumptions. Projects like 180 Days of Learning is a perfect example of such an initiative. How can we encourage more of our teachers/schools to share? How can we communicate the work that we do more effectively with our communities? It is something that I hope to work on as the year progresses and I look forward to developing a narrative with all of you that celebrates all of the great work that is being done.

Criticism and opposition are essential in any democracy. It is important that public institutions are held accountable. With that said, I believe that our education system should be focused on student learning. Unfortunately I do not feel that the current narrative illustrates the successes that are occurring within our schools each and every day. I look forward to fresh ideas and new starts following the election, I just hope we work together to create a story that is worth sharing and inspires others.