As we head into elections, I've been crafting a story to share with my local legislators. I want to let them know the many glorious reasons why they need to fund early childhood education.
Everyone knows stories matter, so as I stared at my blank piece of paper I found myself wondering:
According to the American Press Institute, “A good story is about something the audience decides is interesting or important. A great story does both by using storytelling to make important news interesting.” Broader research shows that when we listen to effective stories and metaphors, our whole brain engages. While listening to stories, we make connections, and understand cause and effect. We even build empathy with the storyteller.
What can we do to make good stories great? Suggestions across the web reiterate the following tips, which I couldn’t help thinking about in CLASS terms.
The exercise of writing to my representatives brought me back to my first CLASS observation training. I was, admittedly, not a good CLASS storyteller at first. You know what it’s like when you conduct a training for the first time—no matter how well you prepare, there’s usually something that didn’t flow like you imagined. Perhaps the participants didn’t understand the point you were trying to make.
We all survive this humbling experience, and then reflect, study, and practice before diving back into our second training. Each training goes a little more smoothly as we grow our skills in conveying our content knowledge. In short, we, trainers, continually strive to become better CLASS storytellers. So, how do you do this?
Prepare and tell the stories that make CLASS interesting. Have at your fingertips different personal or real-world examples that highlight key aspects of CLASS. Spend time anticipating what might be hard to understand, and come up with scenarios (“stories”) that clearly illustrate the point. For example:
When we make stories personal and real for our participants—AND our politicians—our message is more likely to stick and make a difference. This is why great storytelling is so important.
What stories do you tell during trainings that help your participants learn CLASS? Please tell us a story (and while you’re at it, tell one to your legislators too)!
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When I first learned about CLASS Group Coaching—a training for early childhood professionals about building relationships with children—I was more than a little interested. This, I thought. This is what teaching is all about. It seems to be an obvious concept, but once we dig deeper, we are able to identify the whys and hows of our interactions. CLASS Group Coaching allows us to identify the benefits of our classroom relationships with our students and helps us be intentional in our daily practices. It allows us to utilize each moment we have with our students to deepen our understanding of their perspectives and genuinely connect with them as people. It helps us see the world from their view and guide their learning in a way that is relevant to them.
As a CLASS Group Coaching (MMCI) instructor, the sections of any given two-hour session may feel, at times, very goal driven. These sections titled "Know," "See," and "Do” are interconnected. In particular, it is possible to consider "Do" within "Know," and "See." When an instructor supports in-the-moment experiences that connect new knowledge to current practice, they make the CLASS dimensions more relevant to the educators' daily work. But how can we infuse more “Do” into “Know” and “See?” First, let's re-cap what happens in each section.
I have a confession to make. Recently, I used vacation time to stay home and watch Season 6 of The Walking Dead. I know, I know. How could I have let myself miss a whole season? Oh, and I feel a little bad about taking the time off from work too, but this was very nearly an emergency! I mean it was only weeks before Season 7 of the season premiere. I had to do something. Don’t judge.
While I was watching, I had the strangest feeling of deja vu. I felt like I had actually walked through a herd of zombies, but couldn’t quite place why it felt so familiar. Then it hit me—I had unknowingly created zombie-like participants during at least two of my previous CLASS trainings.