Storytelling in my classroom

This year I am teaching Algebra II and AP Statistics, and I have been given the opportunity to be a team leader for the Algebra II teachers.  So far I have felt worthless…

The Pre-AP teachers are much more experienced than me and have been at the school longer.  They have made it clear that they do not want to meet with the other teachers.  The other on-level teachers are new to the school, but not new to teaching the subject.  From what I can tell, they are doing a great job.  So how do I lead them?

I am facing two large obstacles from being an effective leader.  One is obvious and fixable.  I need to be more proactive in my planning of lessons and preparedness for meetings.  We meet as a team regularly, and I have the power to set that agenda.  We should be talking about our common assessments and how our learners are doing.  Instead we often are stalled by conversations about what resources we have for the next day.  I can change that.

The second obstacle is vaguer and the inspiration for this lesson.  I love telling stories to set up my lessons.  They are my hook, but they also anchor my lessons and give me references for future lessons.  I talk about my personal life.  I talk about my theories about zombies.  I complain about my childhood.  How does that translate when I share my lessons with other teachers?  More importantly, is storytelling an attribute we should be training our teachers in?  We tell teachers to be more enthusiastic, even if it is not in their personality.

This post is my first contribution to  I know that what makes my classroom distinctly unique is my storytelling, and it torments me.  I want to “give back” and “pay it forward” and so on in more ways than just showing people how to use their technology.

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5 Responses to Storytelling in my classroom

  1. mburwitz100 says:

    Love the comment of storytelling… I recently read to my students the Raja Rice Fable (one piece of rice the first day, then 2, then 4, then exponentially)… We have run into that sequence of numbers so much since first reading it (in other topics of discussion), but kids blurt out “It’s Raja Rice” Their not forgetting it. I love it when stories can assist their mathematical learnings.

  2. daddyratty says:

    I, too, love, LOVE stories. Sometimes too much. And when I feel like I’ve gone off on a tangent and nobody is understanding me (pun intended) I will pull something like “well this is getting pretty awkward.” The other day during some group work I was telling a group of Algebra 1 students who I knew were into zombies and gore a little bit about the Pythagorean Society, and how the mere fact that they could not explain the square root of 5 as a fraction made them think their whole purpose and world was useless, and that many of them committed suicide. All because they couldn’t find the exact length of a hypotenuse with legs of 2 and 1.

    Nice to read a little about your storytelling. Look forward to reading more!

  3. unkmathprof says:

    I’d love to hear a story. I guess I’m not clear if the story will relate to the topic of the class or if it just to get the attention of the class. I teach a methods course for pre-service middle/high school math teachers and I would love to share your idea. When I’m teaching, I am stressed to get through the material and so I just jump right in. A story might be a good idea.

    Being a leader is hard. I’ve been a leader in our state math teacher organization for the past 4 years and I haven’t felt confident. I’d love to change it and so I’ve tried being more pro-active. That has helped. I’ve made a point to bring up topics that are important to me as well as respecting the ideas of others. It has felt more like a team.

  4. doreenbrady says:

    I imagine that your students enjoy listening to your stories. The right kinds of stories will make a difference. Stories help us remember. How many times have you listened to someone tell a story and then think, “That reminds of the time when…?” We use stories to help us file away information in our brains, and the stories help us later retrieve that information.

  5. Wendy M. says:

    I wish I had been trained as a storyteller! I remember back to when I was in school and some of my favorite teachers were ones that told stories during class. But I feel like I don’t tell a story well (just like I’m horrible with telling jokes). I think storytelling training would definitely have helped me (although some are natural storytellers, I think this is a skill that can also be learned).

    I’m also struggling with being a leader. My school is trying to have teams in grades 9 and 10 (in addition to the teams in middle school). But with the crazy schedules in high school where teachers teach many different grade levels, there are many teachers who may just teach one grade 9 (or 10) class. We’ve also not really been given time in order to meet. So we are struggling to feel like a team. I’m the 9th grade team leader, but I’m struggling with how to change the lack of “teamness” that I’m feeling.

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