3/3/2013 - It's Elementary
Each week, I work with Nan Wilkinson’s 5th & 6th grade class at Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center – Phoenix, AZ

Can You Feel The Ripples?
Can you feel them?

As I sat in class today with the 5th and 6th graders, I became aware of the ripples.
Quite often, I see conversations on many social media or discussion groups about things people learned or discovered about storytelling. “I learned that from so-and-so.” “I saw so-and-so do that years ago, and I started doing it.” Or sometimes, “I don’t know where I first saw that. I started doing it that way years ago.” The question I often wonder about is: “Where did so-and-so learn it?”
Stories are handed down from teller to teller; changed, altered or told in a different way; and then passed on again. That happens with techniques, or ways of teaching too. Often, the actual origin of a technique or style might not be known or might be forgotten. In my Storytellers’ Database program, I have a field designated as, “origin of the story:” Where did I first hear or read this story? How did you find it? This is helpful to me to both remember the origin, and understand how it changed in my hands.
Whenever I teach, I try to acknowledge when or where I learned something, and who I learned it from. Most of the time, students remember that I said it; often they forget that I told them how I learned it.
Today, I was uniquely aware of the ripples; of their origins; of the fact that I had been the water on which they traveled…and now others have become the vessels from which their water will flow.
Today, all the kids were giving appreciations. Thank you Doug Bland for being my first storytelling teacher, and showing me how appreciations can underscore good choices and boost confidence. 
Today I asked each teller to give themselves an appreciation. Thank you Connie Regan-Blake for this small but powerful tool that asks tellers to make a positive self-assessment. Doing this at an early age helps them build confidence in themselves, and that it’s OK to feel good about what they did.
Today, kids who had been shy were able to get up and tell. Thank you Doug Lipman for your great take on coaching, and helping me to create a safe space for tellers, and put them in control of the process. There are some kids who are not ready for feedback, and they say so. How powerful that is!
Today, the kids started off all of their suggestions with, “I wonder if…” And even the teacher (Nan) starts many statements about other subjects and curricula with, “I wonder if…” Thank you Karen Langford Chace for this wonderful phrase that allows “suggesters” to be gentle with their ideas. And thanks to Doug Lipman for telling us that suggestions are like “coupons”, we might use them, and we might not. Together, these two concepts allow tellers to take in suggestions with a more open attitude.
Today, Luke was able to “show” us how the horse felt in his story. Thank you Mother (Elaine Eller Goldman) for teaching me all the Action Techniques to help people understand and safely get in touch with emotions.
Today the kids came up with great ideas on the spur-of-the-moment. Thank you Laura Packer for your ideas on Improv, especially the part about “using and trusting your image engine.”
Today, each of the kids responded to my questions with enthusiasm and creativity. Thank you Liz Warren for your positive attitude, ongoing encouragement; and thanks also to Char Priest (third grade); Phil Gerheart (fifth grade); Gil Rogers (Sophomore French); Phil Sommers (Sophomore Drama) and Lake Bobbitt (Junior & Senior Drama) for being great teachers and making learning fun!
These are just some of the folks/teachers who have made ripples in my life.
I can feel the ripples. I wonder how far back do they go? Can those of you mentioned in this article respond? When, where and from who might you have received these ideas before making them your own and passing them on? Or did they originate with you? It might be interesting to know.

©Mark Goldman 2013

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For more information contact Mark Goldman - 602-390-3858 - Mark@Storytellermark.com


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