Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Untapped Resource for Explaining Teaching

Question: Why should teachers tell their stories about teaching?

Answer/Quote: “Remember the power you have as a teacher—the power of a smile, a touch, a look, an encouraging word. Through telling our stores, we collectively are telling the truth—a powerful accomplishment, because story is the most powerful way to get an idea across. We need to tell our stories for the sake of our children, our profession, this country, and its future. We are teachers and we touch the future and we are in this for the long haul, not the quarterly report.”

“I challenge you. I implore you. Go forth and tell your stories far and wide.”

“Believe me, telling your stories will not be for naught. You all matter, because teaching is a calling not just a job—as we all know.” P. 328.

Comment: This eloquent call for teachers to tell their stories, to tell what they do, was taken from a speech by the president of the National Council of Teachers of English, Yvonne Siu-Runyan. Many of these stories, of course, appear in professional journals as teachers introduce problems that they will attempt to solve in the articles that follow. I told my stories about my life as an English teacher and as an English K-12 supervisor in a book entitled, Teaching English, How To…. (2004, Xlibris). Nobody read it. Not even my “friends.” The stories are good. In conversations, people listen, spellbound, as I repeat the stories that I put in the book, but they will not read them. I guess I just have not found the right vehicle for telling my stories.

I have stories about how I learned to teach grammar, how I published my first article in a professional journal, how I learned to teach spelling effectively, how I learned to teach speed reading, how I learned to teach writing, how I learned to help students develop their reading skills in the content areas, how I learned to be an effective K-12 English supervisor, etc. RayS.

Title: “The 2011 NCTE Presidential Address: Telling Our Stories….” Yvonne Siu-Runyan. Research in the Teaching of English (February 2012), 317-329.

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