SoDak it Hurts

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 07 2011

Telling Our Story

Last spring and over the summer, a good portion of my blog was dedicated to a project called: What It Takes To Begin.

The project was essentially a chance for the teachers we live and work with to share their stories. Based on the idea – this past October, we gathered for a dinner and everyone was simply asked to bring a story from their life to share – one we had never heard. Again, a powerful moment. One that folks still talk about and hope to experience again.

So, I thought – Why does this only exist in my personal life? Can’t I take this into work?

I was never one for setting a lifeless big goal about reading or writing growth. So, I started taking steps toward bringing Story into my classroom – figuring out ways to show my students that I’m walking with them.

So, over the course of last semester, we shifted our focus from reading and writing growth to Telling Our Story. Many of my students encounter difficult experiences in their lives. By dissecting what makes a good story – conflict, struggle, pain – it has been possible to show my students that their lives already every component of a good story. Now it’s all about shifting the kaleidoscope a few millimeters so they can see their lives as stories they are obligated to tell and embrace and improve.

They bought into the idea and we finished last semester with three journals – one for each class I teach:

1st Block: Who I am – A Reflection of Me

2nd Block: Fulfilling Our Dreams – What We Want to Become

4th Block: HURTS – Helping Us Remember The Story

I had copies of the journals out at parent teacher conferences and parents said things like, I never knew this or These stories need to be heard. And my new classes are excited about their chance to tell their story over the course of this semester. When we believe we’re living a valuable story – I think we star to do so.

I’ll close with the introduction a student from my 1st Block wrote for their journal:


There’s no right or wrong way to write about yourself – and that’s exactly what we did. We delved into our minds to leave our mark on the world. So, enter the minds and lines of these young writers whose story has only begun to be told.

Janurary 2011


One Response

  1. Wess

    This is amazing. It’s my dream to eventually be able to teach my kids in as meaningful a way as this. LOVE it!

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About this Blog

I taught 10th Grade English on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota between 2009 and 2011. Currently blogging at

South Dakota
High School

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