From the beginning, parents are telling stories. They are picking up books and reading them to their children. They are passing along oral history. They are telling amazing tales to help children fall asleep, but soon they are sharing these storytelling duties with the facilitators of learning in schools. Students are then surrounded by constant story. It shapes their understanding of the world, and it allows them to make sense of their complex world.
Stories begin to shape what is seen as good and right and they illuminate the things that weigh us down. It is story that can bring us happiness in sad moments, and it is story that can bring perspective to confusing moments. Stories are the evidence that allow us to make judgments about what serves us well, and it is the stories about schools that allow communities to build a narrative about the effectiveness of education.
Stories about schools paint a picture about what learning should look like, and stories about schools help us understand the learning experience of students. Stories connect past learning models to future possibilities in learning, and stories provide parents with the information they need to share to the greater community about how schools serve their students. Stories are a powerful elixir.
Stories are a powerful weapon as well. If we share the stories that showcase the humanity of children in their worst moments, people begin to believe that these stories represent the totality of the culture of a school. If we share the stories of pain, tension, and stress that are a natural part of a learning organization, there are many that see this from a deficit mindset. Stories without context, stories without perspective, and stories embedded in the wrong emotions can fracture the potential for a powerful parent partnership.
Stories are central to the work. Stories can cultivate success. Stories are what keep us from the shifts in mindset that we need.