10 Reasons Why Teachers Should Tell Their Stories

Stories have the power to connect us, move us, and challenge us. Here are 10 reasons why educators should change hearts and minds through the power of storytelling.

By Carri Schneider

Storytelling is having a cultural moment—from the meteoric rise of podcasting, to the personal stories of professional athletics in national media campaigns. If you were one of the millions who tuned in to the “Game of Thrones” finale and heard Tyrion Lannister praise the power of a good story, you know exactly what we’re talking about. 

Stories have the power to connect us, move us, and challenge us. We’ve experienced this time and time again in our work at XQ.

In the three years since we started our community engagement work, we’ve traveled to 70 cities and connected with more than 50,000 people and 2,000 organizations. We’ve heard and been moved by countless stories from small student focus groups to community-wide conversations. We leave each conversation inspired and motivated. 

But we’re also struck by the reluctance of many educators to acknowledge their own power as storytellers. Let’s change that—together. 

Here are 10 reasons we believe teachers should step into their power as storytellers. 

1. Seeing is believing. There are many efforts underway to transform our educational system, but not everyone believes this type of change is important or possible. Stories of educators who are leading this work in their own classrooms can prove that change is not only possible, but that teachers everywhere can take steps to “be the change” in their own schools.

2. One real example is worth a dozen studies. Sure, there’s a time and place for academic research and reports, but there’s no better way to authentically experience what is possible than by hearing real examples from inside real classrooms and communities.

3. Storytelling is an act of reflective practice. The act of sharing your own experience creates an opportunity to reflect on your own personal journey and professional practice in a way that can lead to new insights and perspectives.

4. If you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell it for you. We’ve all experienced it as educators; however well-intentioned, people who never spent a day in the classroom speak on behalf of educators. Add your voice to the conversation, whether by speaking up in a local newspaper or presenting at a national conference.

5. Your stories send a powerful message. Owning your truth and telling your own story models the importance of doing the same for the young people you serve. By empowering yourself, you’re empowering others!

6. Stories create connections. Our stories have the power to connect us more meaningfully to our students, their families, our colleagues, our peers, and our communities. Open up to the possibilities of these new connections.

7. Stories come in all shapes and sizes. No story is too small. You can share your voice in a tweet or a single image. You can reach out to a favorite podcaster or blogger to offer a fresh take on something you heard.

8. Stories challenge assumptions. The most powerful stories are those that challenge us to see the world through new eyes and to challenge our assumptions. What have you experienced that would help someone else to see the world differently? What assumptions or misconceptions can you challenge?

9. Your story matters. Yes, YOURS! And the story of everyone you teach and work with. Share this blog or the sentiments behind it with the people in your circle.

10. Opportunities are everywhere!  There are many ways that educators can share their stories. Hashtags are a simple way to share your perspective on a topic that matters to you. We’d love your examples and ideas using #ReThinkHighSchool on social media. Interested in becoming an XQ guest blogger?  Tell us a little bit about yourself and your ideas and we’ll follow up with details.