“The shortest distance between two people is a story.” –Patti Digh.
Before first period, Sandra told me about her funny cheerleading accident. After second period, T.J. described a movie he saw over the weekend. Trevor did too. Kyle always has a story to tell me. Sometimes it’s about his new kitten, sometimes about his little brother. Sandra’s story elicited words of concern, T.J. got some “tell me more” questions and with Kyle, I laughed out loud.
Student’s stories are important and not to be glossed over or taken lightly.
I believe that some students present their stories to me as a gift, the modern day version of the old-fashioned apple-for-a-teacher, something personal that they bring to make me laugh, or smile.
Some kids share their stories because they are trying to create a connection. And it works. I enjoy hearing the bits and pieces of their lives, learning about what they do when they aren’t in my classroom. I realize that this is also the reason why I share personal stories with my students. I tell them about my childhood, my family, and even my mistakes. I do this so that they too see me as something more than just their teacher, so that maybe they can find something in my story that helps them connect to me.
Regardless of whether the story is meant as a gift, a means to connect or comes from a need to have someone listen to them, I’ve been a teacher long enough to understand that each of these stories are little blessings. Often awkward or effusive, sometimes guarded but always sincere, whenever students choose to share a bit of their personal lives with me, I feel honored. No matter what the story, what each storyteller is really saying is, “I am letting you into my life…and maybe, if you play your cards right, into my heart.”
So when a child shares a seemingly trivial or unimportant little anecdote with you, pay attention. Know that something important is happening and be grateful.