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Telling the Story of Your Learning Spaces

In my role, I spend most of my time with schools that are seeking to change their conditions for teaching and learning.  While these efforts can be difficult and challenging, the process that unfolds generally makes visible many stories of the teachers and administrators who are trying to make school a better place for kids.  It's important to tell those stories.

I've begun to support my clients and their work through a messaging and storytelling program.  While this is just beginning, I wanted to share some insights that have become apparent should you be interested in doing the same.  In the end, this work is an effort to portray their efforts associated with school improvement to their community and to build their brand as a progressive educational organization. 

When I engage clients through the process of design, it is essential for me to understand their perspectives about education and what they want the experience at school to be.  This typically means that I have to go much deeper than a mission or vision statement.  Understanding the desired teaching and learning experience at a school enables me to develop a set of design drivers that provide a foundation or scaffold for the design work ahead. 

For me, design drivers represent the fundamental truths about education that the school believes in.  These are the messages that need to be communicated.  But the question is how?

To communicate any message, it is my belief that it is absolutely critical to wrap a story around the message.  Stories engage people and stories supply the human context for why the message is important.  If you want a particular message to resonate, make it human by basing in it story.  

If you want to see one of the best examples of this that I know of, check out Community Consolidated School District 59 in Arlington Heights, Illinois.  They have developed a 59 in :59 program that tells the story of something about their school district in 59 seconds.  Short, to the point, watchable, professionally done, interesting, and human-centric.  Brilliant.

To accomplish my goals associated with messaging and storytelling, I've been experimenting with a range of tools that will support this work.  What is out there has come a long way and there is truly some phenomenal technology capacity.  That will be the subject of my next newsletter post.