Story Circles

Leslie Marmon Silko

  • Where in your badging pathways are there opportunities to listen to and tell stories?
  • What exactly do we mean by “story?”
    • Primary way that humans save and make sense of information
    • Connects us to other individuals and to our cultures
    • Telling/retelling a chain of events that leads somewhere
    • Has characters, setting, dialogue, action
    • Unfolds slowly for your audience, making them feel like they are watching/listening/experiencing the events
    • Has Both Purpose and Meaning: A point, a “so what?”
    • In the web article “What is a Story,” author Jane Friedman explains the role of a storyteller as a careful artist who creates meaning by relating a series of event. She writes, “A story is a selective batch of information. It selects details, arranges them, perhaps embellishes them…Don’t re-live the entire event…You want to communicate to your audience: Here’s the best of what happened. I’ve chosen from my bag of storytelling tricks the best way to tell this tale to delight you the most. Pay attention! Details I select will be important. Yet, I will leave room for your imagination, dear listener or reader, to come into play.”

Telling Stories About Who and What We Claim To Be 

  • Brainstorm a list of identity categories that you identify with. These should be categories you’ve chosen like “fraternity pledge,” “fashionista,”or “coffee drinker” and categories that you’ve been born or thrown into such as “working class,” “Latinx,” “white,” “survivor,” or “Jewish.”
  • When did this identity speak to you? In other words, think of a time when you really knew, felt, or understood what it meant to be a pledge, white, a fasionista, Latinx, Jewish, working class, etc.?
  • This can be a strong memory, an early memory, or something that happened yesterday or last week.
  • Think of what story you’ll tell and how to tell it. Use a story starter phrase such as:
    • “I remember…
    • “I was only X years old when…”
    • There was this one time…”
  • Story Circle
    • We will pass around a story object to signal whose turn it is to tell a story
    • Everyone will tell a brief story about one of their identities
    • If you are not telling your story, you will be an empathetic listener (eye-contact, no technology, no side conversations)
    • You have one minute to tell your story. Your story doesn’t have to be a full minute, but it can’t be over one minute.
    • There will be silence after each story and no response or commentary
    • Once it is your turn, you can refer back to someone else’s story
    • There is no judgment, only listening in a story circle
    • Once everyone has shared, we will have a 5 minute debrief
      • What did you enjoy about this?
      • Were there moments where you were uncomfortable?
      • Where and how can you use story to connect with your audience?