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Share True Stories to Engage Students


Social-Emotional Learning/Growth Mindset Universal Design for Learning All Ages Strategy


Anxiety Flexible Thinking Self-regulation

Share True Stories to Engage Students

Experience is not what happens to you, it's what you do with what happens to you.
— Aldous Huxley

Personal stories are one of the most powerful ways to engage children and can be particularly effective when developing social and emotional skills.

How To Apply It!

  1. Share true and engaging stories from your own experiences. You could use famous or historical figures as well, though more personal stories include details and emotions that can resonate more strongly.
  2. After you finish the story, engage in active discussion about how the people involved probably felt at the time. If you were involved, how you felt.
  3. Discuss your choices and the outcomes. Why did you do what you did? What would you have done differently? How did you feel? The more personal and imperfect the better.
  4. Use humorous anecdotes whenever possible. The funnier the story, the more engaged the child will be, which increases the chances he will learn and remember.
  5. Even when a story is funny, always be sure to laugh at the circumstances or the situation, not the persons involved. If you laugh at someone, the student might fear that someone might someday be laughing at him.
  6. Use stories to reinforce that no one is perfect, we all make mistakes, and we all learn and grow from experiences. As bad as it might have seemed at the time, with time you can reflect and learn from it.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Stories enable students to process information in context without having to be at the center of the example (Gay (2010). Trying to convince a student to behave in a certain way with a lecture might not be very effective. However, demonstrating the lesson through true stories is likely to be more believable, relatable and memorable. Stories can be key to building relationships and empathy.