Resource 4: Getting Stories Started: For Educators and Facilitators


Getting Stories Started: For Educators and Facilitators

In life, storytelling often happens organically with friends and loved ones; other times, facilitators and educators have the chance to create opportunities for storytelling! As a facilitator, you can help people tell their best stories, where they are able to portray who they are and how they experience the world. Use this guide as a set of reminders for how you can best facilitate storytelling in your classroom or workplace. Note: These suggestions are intended as personal checkpoints rather than used as a formula. Feel free to add steps or skip suggestions that do not work for you or the situation you are in – make it your own!

Set Conditions

  1. Discuss the value of stories and how they contribute to the group culture. Ask participants why they care about people’s stories.
  2. Set up norms for storytelling, including time length for the speaker and audience behavior.
  3. Create rituals and routines around when and how stories are told.

Identify Goals

  1. Some people need to know why they are telling or listening to stories before they can proceed. State what they should focus on.
  2. Many academic standards involve telling clear and organized stories. Explicitly state academic goals.
  3. Clarify emotional and relational goals for learning about people.

Communicate Expectations

  1. Establish what is “fixed” and what
    is “flexible” – be clear about how free the storyteller can be.
  2. State the purpose of the story and what it should accomplish.
  3. State what the storyteller should expect from the situation (i.e. how many people they will speak to and how long they have to prepare).

Cultivate Capacity

  1. Help people feel prepared. When possible, give prompts in advance and give time to outline thoughts.
  2. Create low-stakes activities before anything high-stakes, so that people can practice storytelling.
  3. Be a sounding board for ideas and coach people through their initial thoughts. Validate and encourage.

Determine Prompts

  1. Give people 2-3 options for story topics. More than 3 will lead people to spend too much time on topic selection and 1 is limiting.
  2. Keep prompts open-ended and free for interpretation (even only one word or phrase is fine).
  3. Avoid language that makes it seem there’s a right or wrong answer.

Model Connection

  1. Be genuinely interested in the story and demonstrate that interest with your non-verbal behavior.
  2. State what resonated with you,
    and what you will remember.
  3. Help people feel like their story was worth telling by connecting it to future activities or stating how
    it will impact future work or learning.
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