One of my favourite parts of my job is to visit schools around New Zealand and help them tell their curriculum story through video.
I have been interested in the process that schools go through when they let us into their place to help them tell their curriculum story. I find the whole process of 'storying' intriguing. By sitting down and taking the time to explore their own school story individually, and then telling the story to each other as they tell it to us, you can see new possibilities opening up.
Principals have told me that after we leave they can see even more possibilities for change and growth in their schools. It is as if our visit is a step in the process of curriculum change.
People construct identities through their talk in interaction with others
I read Narrative inquiry and school leadership identities (2009) by Greer Cavallaro Johnson and it raised a few ideas for me. She mentions that 'people construct identities through their talk in interaction with others' (p270). This is evident when you place a video camera in front of someone. They are not only telling you the story of their curriculum change but also their place within that change. It is interesting to see them explore this narrative through a different lens. They have been active in the process, but the process of storying allows them to see what their place was in that process and to reflect on the experience.
Telling stories is an interactional process
Greer also discussed the 'interactional process of how people tell and respond to stories' (p275) which got me thinking about the part that we actually play in the storying process. By inviting the school to tell their curriculum story we are providing a lens through which to look at what is happening in the school. We have a specific focus - that of curriculum development. We then funnel what we see and what people tell us through this lens to see in detail the parts that make up the change and the perceived outcomes. Prior to this the school may not have taken the time to see how all the parts of the change process connect together. There are always many different initiatives occurring in schools and sometimes those within the school do not see the interconnections between the initiatives and how they influence each other.
Story tellers are in charge of how they want to be heard
The last point I picked up from this paper was that 'storytellers are in charge of how they want to be heard' (p281). I think a lot of the time, in the process of telling us their stories, teachers and leaders see how they want things to be rather than how they might currently be. And this is the story they tell. It is a 'looking forward' story. And hopefully with telling us their story, reflecting on where they have been and where they are heading, schools find the process of telling their story an actual step in the process of making their story a reality.
Here is the latest curriculum story from NZC Online