We are all storytellers: immersed in my narrative worlds

Humans are storytelling organisms who, individually and socially, lead storied lives. ~ Jean Clandinin & Michael Connelly 

our constructed stories connect us

our constructed stories connect us

Whether teaching, writing, conversing or considering our own lives and identities, we are all doing one thing: storytelling.

I have recently been quiet in the Twitterverse and blogosphere, partly because more than ever before I am immersed in micro and meta layers of story.

I have been tunnelling into my PhD narrative research in every spare moment, thinking obsessively and writing dangerously. I am sharing, constructing and analysing the stories of myself, teachers and schools leaders in order to reveal insights into professional identity, professional learning and school change. I am penning my first journal article about experimental ways of telling, utilising and analysing stories in research.

When I am not researching or thinking about my narrative research, I am teaching English to high school students. Reading stories, writing stories, analysing stories, watching stories, performing stories.

Or I am with my own children, reading stories, telling stories, making storyable memories, recounting favourite moments, role playing imagined scenes with make believe characters. Or talking to my husband about his work in media and content marketing, which is all about individuals and organisations telling their stories and constructing their storied identities, in order to communicate and connect. Or blogging vignettes from my own lived story. Or planning conference presentations of my research story or the story of my school’s teacher growth model.

We are indeed storytelling creatures. While I also try to be present in each moment and to live in wonder, stories embody the ways we construct our experiences, connect with each other and the world. I write my own stories, teach the telling and interpreting of stories, and engage in the theorising of stories. Have I used the word ‘story’ enough times in this post to indicate that it is currently both intoxicating and maddening to me? Story story story.

Obsessed and submerged, back into the subterranean story cave I go …

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. ~ Philip Pullman

by @debsnet

Presence, Sharing, Strength: 3 words for 2015

presence * sharing * strength ~ words for 2015 against the backdrop of my New Year's Day

presence * sharing * strength ~ my words for 2015 against the backdrop of my New Year’s Day

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.’ ~ Alfred Tennyson 

We have passed across the threshold of the year to come. The new year is upon us.

While I tend to reflect constantly and set small, achievable goals, it’s been a while since I have set a New Year’s resolution (and I don’t intend to start here; what follows is an alternative approach to finding focus at the inception of another trip around the sun). While I love a good list, and an inspiring goal, I also love a good vision. Like organisations, individuals function optimally when we align our words and actions with a clear, coherent sense of identity and vision. Chris Brogan advocates for a simple personal visioning exercise to develop our own personal vision for the year ahead: ‘3 words’. Interestingly, some people (like educator Kirsten Wilson here) use this approach intuitively.

This is my first year of utilising the 3 words approach, and here they are:


This is a year of being present for me; of hereness, mindfulness and breathing into each moment. Presence, as I wrote about here, is an ongoing daily focus for me. My life, like most lives, is filled with competing, overlapping commitments, including my family, teaching, leadership role, PhD research, wellbeing and relationships. I have written about how I approach doing a PhD and my thinking around finding work-family commitment. My intention is to commit to being absolutely present in each of these spaces. If I can minimise distractions and focus fully on experiencing the person or task at hand, I can be immersed, productive and joyful. I can nurture relationships and be effective in my work and writing. I don’t want to see 2015 as a mad juggle of life’s components, but as a kind of ecosystem of interconnected wonderfulness in which all elements can be honoured and enjoyed. In amongst the doing needs to be the being.


Sharing is reciprocal and collaborative. I read what others share. I share my thoughts on social media and on this blog. I share the stories of others in my PhD (which uses narrative research to examine transformative adult learning and school change). This word could have been ‘connecting’, ‘storytelling’, ‘expression’, ‘conversation’, ‘communication’, ‘collaboration’ or ‘tribe’ but none of those capture quite what I mean by ‘sharing’. In 2015 I am sharing – hopes, dreams, stories, pedagogy, beliefs, leadership approaches, writing strategies – with my friends, family, PhD, supervisors, PLN, Twitterverse, blogosphere and hopefully even some thesis examiners (although that might not be until 2016). As I discussed in my post about writing dangerously, I will be writing various texts in various styles to be shared with various audiences. Sharing our own thinking makes connections, starts conversations and builds collaboration. Sharing is viral, organic and transformational.


In 2015 I want to be strong in body, convicted in belief, confident in voice and resilient in character. A strength regime therefore involves physical bodily exercise including strength training, development of writerly voice (especially important in the final stages of my PhD), honouring my deeply held beliefs, and confidence in sharing my thinking in blogs, at conferences and in academic articles. Strength in myself and my identity means being able to stand up for my ideas, believe in my approach and be accepting of my own idiosyncracies, my own creative ways of thinking, my own imperfections and my own brand of ‘lovably weird’.

If you are looking for more visioning inspiration, check out the 2015 #3words blog posts of C. C. Chapman, Joyce Sullivan and Sheree Martin. Educators, check out Dave Burgess’s Teach like a PIRATE: Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask & analyse, Transformation and Enthusiasm – kind of a vision and a list all rolled into one acronym. ‘Piracy’ would be a pretty good word.

What are your 3 words for 2015? I would love to hear them.

It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time. ~ Winston Churchill

into the future we go

into the future we go