School-Based Component: Tellin' Stories

Tellin' Stories, a program of Teaching for Change, works with parents to create and implement action plans that affect the academic achievement and environment of neighborhood schools through relationship building (creating a story quilt), weekly meetings, workshops, trainings, and grassroots organizing. Together -- Tellin' Stories, parents, educators, community members, and partner organizations -- redefine the vision of school communities by helping those who are traditionally excluded from the decision-making process become a central part of it.

TELLIN' OUR STORY: HOW TELLIN' STORIES WORKS IN SCHOOLS

Community Building: Tellin' Stories creates opportunities for families across race, class, language and cultural boundaries to connect to each other and to their school--often for the first time--through the power of story. In the Story Quilting series, each participant shares a story from his/her history and culture on a felt square. As the squares are sewn together, so too are the lives of those who made them.

Gathering Information And Developing Skills: Parents gain the tools they need during regular parent meetings to analyze the school climate, the facilities, and the quality of teaching and learning at their school.

Identifying And Prioritizing Concerns: By learning to ask the right questions, parents prioritize concerns and determine who has the power to address them most immediately and effectively. Tellin' Stories supports parents in voicing their concerns at teacher meetings, school board and city council hearings, and in sessions with district wide officials.

Taking Action: Parents determine what actions need to be taken to achieve desired results and collectively, with the support of Tellin' Stories, implement their plans. For example, while working in the District of Columbia, a group of outraged parents organized a rally outside the 4th District Police Station to demand crossing guards at a busy intersection near their school. Since this visit, a police officer has been assigned to the post.

Collaborating: Tellin' Stories facilitates collaboration among all members of the school, beginning the year with a parent-led community walk. Efforts such as these ensure a safe, healthy learning environment for the children.

Evaluating and Sustaining the Work: Every aspect of Tellin' Stories' work involves action and reflection. In addition to an in depth action research project examining the meaningful role parents play in their children's schools, Tellin' Stories involves all key stakeholders in assessing the work to increase impact. Sustainability relies on the development of local leaders.

The following schools will participate in Tellin' Stories during the 2007-2008 school year:

-- Cool Spring Elementary School, Prince George's County Public Schools
-- John Eager Howard Elementary School, Baltimore City Public Schools

For information on workshops and trainings, contact [email protected] or call 202.588.7207 or 7219.


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