Vision & Values into Practice

This past Saturday, I was awed to see families writing together.  I was awed to see young children take agency, write their own stories and read to an adult audience.  I was awed to hear the voices of our students about their hopes and fears in school.  I was honored to talk to parents about their hopes and fears for their children.  I was inspired by our community of teachers, students, parents, administrators and staff who came together on a Saturday to write vision stories together.

Last year on Edutopia, a great article posted about why every school should tell its story.  It’s a read that resonates, and for our district, it has affirmed our own storytelling practices.

For the past year, we have engaged in an exercise titled Vision and Values into Practice.  It is a modified Future Search that we learned from Bernajean Porter, which we have used to frame our reaccreditation process.  For us, it serves to engage our community in our guiding principles and system goals by creating stories of what we hope to become.

Essentially, we frame our protocol around three components

  • Engage in a discussion about what we are trying to envision, which in our case is our revised mission/beliefs (Guiding Principles) and the strategic goals that emerged from our self study
  • Create a Wave Packet by using a Best Hopes/Worst Fears protocol; this serves to present two possible realities and allows us to name our fears; once we have named then, we focus on creating the reality we wish for, our Best Hopes
  • In collaborative groups, we then write stories set 5-7 years into the future, in first person, from the perspective of a student/teacher/parent describing what success looks like

Not only does this exercise communicate our goals and generate enthusiasm, it also builds our community.  It creates engagement in our school.  It is fun.  And, to quote Bernajean, “once you have a story, you know what it looks like.”  It is a narrative action plan, but more than an action plan, it inspires action because we know what we are trying to achieve.

Video Archive Yourself?!?

This morning, I presented virtually at ISTE 2015. Actually, I re-presented a shortened version of a webinar on Narrative Poetry & Digital Storytelling that I presented for the ISTE Digital Storytelling Network in April. As I was preparing and reviewing for my presentation, I realized that in my Kuwait-Saudi move purging frenzy, I’d tossed all of my handwritten notes and commentary.

As I noted in my “Whirlwind” post, we move fast. Perhaps too fast, and in just two short months, though I knew the content well, I was no longer in the same preparatory space as I’d had been when I prepared the original presentation. Luckily, we record our webinars, and so I watched the archive and took notes from myself. This proved interesting, useful and I learned again. This time from myself.

Though I may have archived my webinar for my portfolio, I probably would not have watched it all from start to finish had I not been preparing a secondary presentation. And though I had a detailed outline, it was really interesting hearing myself present, hearing the thoughts I spoke in real time and hearing the connections I didn’t know I’d made. I learned something and revisited a place I’d not been in a couple of months. Additionally, I was able to revise my upcoming presentation and improve upon it.

Yesterday, I also came across a video blog by one of my favorite coaching experts, Stephen Barkley.  Though I don’t typically love video presentations, his “post” spoke to me.

These two experiences, one of viewing Barkley speak in real time and the other of of going back in time and hearing myself speak as opposed to just reading old notes or journals, has got me thinking that it might be valuable to take video archives of what we do. We advise novice teachers to record themselves as a form of reflection.  Perhaps, this should be standard practice.

  • What do we look and sound like when we are presenting, teaching, collaborating, etc.?
  • What do our planned thoughts look like in real time?
  • What is the uncut version of who we are?
  • What can we learn from watching a past version of ourselves?
  • Can recording and presenting our thoughts deepen our online connections?

As a writer, I know that I do not capture nearly all that I think.  I also know that as much as I plan and script presentations, I always go off book.  Thus, listening to myself was illuminative.  It was also nice to remember the intensity of the passion I feel for the topic, and this is something that words on paper/screen simply can’t do.

Additionally, listening to Stephen Barkley speak, think and pause made me connect with his content in a manner that differed from reading blog posts (though I also love the traditional blog posts).

As we journey further into the digital age, I would challenge us to start recording ourselves live and uncut, at least some of the times.  And then, watch it a week, month or year later. Though it occurred by chance in a moment of necessity, it certainly proved to be a wonderfully reflective exercise.

A link to my original Narrative Poetry & Digital Storytelling Webinar can be found here or at

Poetic Voices: Using Digital StoryTelling to Visualize Narrative Poetry

As part of my work with the ISTE Digital Storytelling Network, I just presented a webinar on using digital storytelling with narrative poetry.  The archive to the webinar will be posted to our wiki at:

I am also embedding the presentation below.  Feel free to use, share or modify.  I’m happy to answer any questions.

Feel free to view the presentation here and make a copy in order to revise for your needs.  Thank you to my wonderful co-presenter Julie Jaeger.

Happy StoryTelling and StoryKeeping!