In this strategy, you will tell your life story, and then students will write out and share their own life story. Students will learn best in your classroom when you share honestly with them about your own journey, and inquire about their journey to this place in time. Students will be able to express their journey through written, verbal, and artistic mediums.
Before starting this strategy, build your background knowledge by exploring the following two resources included in the resource section below:
The Power of Telling Your Story: This will help encourage students to tell their own story. Stories create identities and help define ourselves. This exercise helps us reflect on who we are, so we can be our best selves.
The Danger of a Single Story: This video gives insight into different perspectives stories can tell. Different perspectives lend to empathy and understanding, as we all have individual differences.
Create your own story of self to use as a model by reflecting on your own educational and personal journey. Write three paragraphs that follow a chronological order of past, present, and future, and reflect on your own journey to the classroom.
Be sure to include your major accomplishments and setbacks in early life, high school, college, and professional in the reflection.
Include current hobbies and interests, and a future goal.
Create a visual timeline that illustrates the major moments in your story with a small illustration for each moment you included in your writing.
Create classroom expectations for creating and sharing stories of self with others. Some expectations can include:
Be respectful of people’s stories.
Be vulnerable and honest when creating your own story.
Have students write stories using the guidelines included in the resource section below. The stories should be no less than three paragraphs—past experiences, present hobbies and interests, future aspirations. The stories should also answer the following questions:
How did you arrive in your current city/school?
What do you like to do outside of school?
What have been some successes/struggles in your educational journey?
What do you hope for your future?
After students have completed their stories, gather materials for students to illustrate depicting important moments or ideas on a timeline. Materials should include what the teacher used to create their own timelines such as 8.5 x 14in timeline paper and markers, or these illustrations can be completed digitally using a tool such as Canva or even Google Slides.
Have students share their stories and illustrations in small groups in order to practice talking about their stories. Remind students of expectations while listening to other stories, and share with students some example questions they can ask the presenter after he/she has shared his/her story. Some example questions for teachers/students following the presentations include:
When you (student) moved, how did it make you feel?
What do you like to do on weekends?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is your favorite/least favorite thing about our school?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
When you create your own story of self, be sure to model an exemplary level of reflection and vulnerability. If you stay at the surface level with your sharing, so will your students. Be sure to include an academic and personal struggle you had to overcome to get where you are, and a difficult story that requires some type of reflection or class discussion.