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MASA Leader Winter 2013

Say Hey, Let’s Talk Tell Me a Story By William Mayes, MASA Executive Director Awithout him. hearts before we fill their heads? What difference could it makeSo today, I’m wondering: What if we spend more time tellingstories? What could we accomplish if we start engaging people’ss I write this column, my brother, Mike, is dying. By thetime you read it, barring a miracle, I will be learning to live I do not expect this new “semester” of learning to be easy. It is in Lansing? What difference could it make in your schools? not a life-lesson I welcome. He is my youngest brother, after all, Our friend Joseph Grenny from the Vital Smarts organization and his passing defies the natural order of events which should wrote about this in a recent newsletter. He believes stories are dictate that he learn to live without me. better for influencing behaviors than are facts, logic and data. That’s Only one good thing has come from this lesson so far: it’s given because stories create a vicarious experience for the listener. my far-flung family a chance to get together. And one of the most So when educators tell stories, rather than relying on abstract powerful experiences we’ve had is telling stories. We’ve laughed, ideas or logical argument, they take listeners into their schools we’ve cried, we’ve learned more about ourselves along the way. to help them feel the human impact of the work they are trying Best of all, telling stories has prepared all of us—Mike included— to do. The right stories told in the right way can profoundly for the difficult task that lay just ahead. affect others’ motivation to change. But stories can do more. As I contemplate the theme for this issue, Lifelong Learning, I They can also influence ability. couldn’t help reflect on the potential power of story in our work How does that work? Let me invite you to grab a cup of coffee and to transform the path to higher student achievement. take a moment to watch a short video that MASA staff put together For more than 7 years on this job, I’ve relied on accurate data, during the Fall Conference. You can find it at http:// research-based practice, and convincing arguments to persuade gomasa.org/media-library/student-achievement. people to support public educators. Sometimes we win our points; We asked MASA members a simple question: How serious are more often we fall short. As a result, public educators feel under you about student achievement? The answers came back as stories— attack and support for our critical mission continues to decline. stories about real people engaged in life-changing activities that are building skills and raising hope for kids. Their responses didn’t center on programs. They didn’t rely on How Serious Are YOU About Student Achievement? logic. They didn’t pile on data. Now, imagine the motivational power of those stories on fellow educators and students. Imagine Tell your stories about real people engaged in the life-changing work their ability to envision how they could improve learning within of supporting students. Stories can inspire and equip others to do the their circle of influence. same! MASA can involve you in our story-telling project through four easy steps: There’s no denying it: Times are tough for school employees. Collect your stories Your job as their leader is to keep everyone learning, and part Record a brief video (we can help) of that task means improving people’s motivation and ability to Post it at www.gomasa.org pursue solutions. By communicating with stories, you can build others’ motivation and ability to be better learners…for life! Share the link, and we’ll do the same. Let’s spread the word that Michigan’s public schools are serious about student achievement…for life! Want to know more? Contact Jeremy Harder at 517-327-9259. 6 MASA LEADER • January 2013


MASA Leader Winter 2013
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