Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Your School's Story: Rooted in Truth

I love the word "story".  Over the next few weeks I'd like to explore the idea of story and story telling based on this Bernadette Jiwa post entitled The Characteristics of Great Brand Stories.  I want to take her insights and place them in the context of schools and what it means for us as we share and develop our own school stories that ring true to the identity we wish to create!

For me, it was a word that came up when I opened Timberview Middle with Carrie Jackson in 2010.  It was a rough road, as most openings tend to be, but this was different.  As I shared in this post, we sat in our leadership meeting with some district folks and we came to the conclusion that there was a group of passionate people out there that were telling our story and we had no voice in it.  We had begun a journey to transform teaching and learning, but that disruption to the norm was not taken well and there was a very negative and one-sided story being shared.  We needed to be more involved and it needed to be rooted in truth.  We knew we had to tell a story that was about the great things happening on campus and it had to be authentic and bring people on board!

As I write this, I'm thinking of truth in two ways, which may not necessarily different.  (1) True to self.  Although we are working towards developing and refining our identity, there should always be alignment of the narrative shared and what makes your school, your school. (2) True, as in accurate.  It has to be what is really happening!  In this respect, celebrations are great!  Certainly we are not going to go out and advertise shortcomings and screw-ups, but we can certainly be transparent with the opportunities for improvement and things we want to get better at.  Transparency brings credibility as an school and demonstrates a desire to better meet the needs of kids!  In addition to those thoughts, there are few things that bring truth to the table is welcoming in other voices.  Our problem above is that we had no voice in that story as well as it had little truth (had a great deal of emotion, though).  We didn't want to make that mistake so we rallied various voices to join us that were on the same journey.

Bottom line, is that the story we tell must be reflective of the journey we are on!  How are you rooting your school's story in truth?

Happy story-telling!


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