As well as bringing concepts and models to life, story-telling supports connection and builds trust. When we disclose something about ourselves it makes us more real and accessible. We have always believed in the power of self-disclosure through story-telling, and the work that we are doing with schools has further reinforced this belief.
During our 2nd wholehearted session with our year 5’s and 6’s we explored how ‘bullies’ don’t actually like themselves very much, let alone live a wholehearted life. The very fact that they feel the need to be unkind to others is evidence of this. The children struggled with this concept saying things like ‘but they are confident’ and ‘…they must love themselves to be so popular’. I told the story of how I was bullied at primary school, and how in adulthood I bumped into one of the two bullies I was faced with at school. She told me that she had been having a tough time at home, that her older brother was being unkind to her at the time and that her parents weren’t giving her the attention she needed. She explained that the reason she bullied was to make her feel more powerful and in control, because she had none of this at home. Not once did I say that the bullying was ever acceptable, but the story helped the children see that just because bullies have ‘power’ it doesn’t mean that they feel good about themselves. In fact the opposite is more likely to be true. The Head of Year 5, also in this session, then shared a very similar story of his own. It was clear that during these stories it was the first time the children had put their ‘pens down’ without being asked to, and were totally present and full of questions. They were totally captivated because we were being open and real, no longer simply a ‘teacher’ and another ‘grown up’. And the stories could have been about anything that was personal to us, it just happened that this time it was about bullying. So what does this tell us?
It tells us that everyone can connect with the feeling of vulnerability. That everyone has a story to tell (if they choose to) that shows a ‘real’ part of them. That as human beings we connect with the ‘real’ parts of other people because we all have ‘real’ parts, no matter how old we are. So if we are unable to ‘show ourselves’; be vulnerable and self-disclose, can we ever build real connections? Emotional connection supports learning, therefore it is critical that teachers are able to do this.
I remember loving the lessons where my teacher was firm but fair, and of course fun. The teachers I connected with the most made the subject feel easier. I exceled in all sciences because my science teacher was the epitome of accessible. He told so many stories, and we knew so much about him, it was the ‘safest’ class environment I ever experienced. As a result of this he taught me so much more than science! On the other end of the spectrum I had to have a private maths tutor because my maths teacher scared me. So much so that I never once asked a question in class to clarify my learning.
There is much evidence highlighting the power of connection for any leader. People want to follow these leaders, and this means that they are able to inspire their workforce. Most leaders will go to school at some point during their childhood, so imagine if teachers were able to role model connection through story telling as well as teaching the subjects that they are employed to teach. Letting children know that it’s OK to have worries, to be afraid and that to share them is nothing to be ashamed of. We believe that this must be a key part of any teacher training going forward.
– See more at: http://www.boltfromtheyou.com/blog/2016/01/use-story-telling-to-support-connection-and-build-trust/#sthash.60MgUJmq.dpuf