Updated: Jul 10, 2022
By Steve Saville and Rebecca Thomas
“Story, it’s a reminder that you’ve lived it and that it has value.” Heather Greenwood Davis
Emphasizing the importance of teachers’ voices, their personal knowledge and their daily lives in pursuit of sustainable change is imperative – a teacher’s career path is a narrative that should be shared and valued.
What you are looking at below is a system. This is the ‘normal’ system that we follow as changes are made to education. Looking at its design it is very similar to how a lever works: fixed load one end and when pressure is applied it moves heavy loads - not a very ‘human’ way of running a system that deals directly with people. It is hard to see where teachers' professional expertise and story fits into the process of change.
What if we innovated this system?
What if we valued a teacher's story in the change process?
What if we trusted our professionals and empowered them to grow in a way that they need and understand?
What if we were serious about a culture of care and provided a safe space for teachers to hear their own voices enabling them to theorise and take action?
Maybe the system that would look like this.
Although at first this system looks more complex it is in fact a few simple systems interacting with each other - more humanlike. It can take, respond, and support a range of variables, it evolves and shares relationships that are dynamic. It is more of an ecosystem. Like a school, it interacts through relationships and experiences. It is about a community of learners coming together to learn from one another - Ako.
Instead of being layered or filtered down, it focuses on the process of change on a more personal level. It values teachers and their experiences and expertise. It promotes trust between the interactions and relies on judgement and reflection - empowering educators to grow and develop.
This new approach personalises the learning for teachers within the change process, therefore there are fewer disengaged teachers, leaders and consequently less disengaged students. It values the voices of its participants and creates the conditions for growth within the school community - change from within, supported by tools.
Each tool begins with a living conversation (a scenario). Joining a living conversation is inclusive, inviting the reader, listener, writer, or teller as a companion along on another’s journey. It allows us to become wiser, more receptive, more understanding and sometimes healed.
(tools that support this theory of change can be purchased here,
access to Term 3 FREE tools can be found here)
Narrative pedagogy is an approach to thinking about teaching and learning that evolves from the lived experiences of teachers and students, using a narrative landscape to find and explore meaning. The telling of stories opens the door for eliciting and analysing issues, interpreting and contextualising, and reflecting/integrating personal and theoretical knowledge. The most important thing about narratives is that they have an emotional effect on people: they can both shock and encourage them.
We have always found meaning in our lives through stories.
By sharing narrations with colleagues and thinking them over, not only do teachers see their motives, they also identify common challenges and dilemmas. The narration of a story can serve as a powerful mechanism for transforming, learning; it evokes imagination, and can create and enhance professional creativity. Nurture it, don't surrender it.
(to watch a video that explains the process in more detail visit the home page)