Story Hui is a group storytelling process that channels communication in multiple dimensions at once. Story Hui is being used in schools to help reveal and celebrate often invisible aspects of success. Liz Stevenson, from CORE Education, explains how it is used. Teachers, Parani Temoana and Tania Chapman, from Titahi Bay School share how it has enriched their teaching as inquiry process.
Liz: Story Hui is not new of course because we’ve been telling stories forever. Story Hui in this sense, takes it just a little bit further in terms of having a few more protocols around it. So what we’ve got is we’ve got a group of people put together, who are using a process of facilitative questioning to actually produce much deeper knowledge than we have from one teacher's perspective.
So when we’re reflecting on learner’s success using Story Hui, we meet as a group of something between say, four and seven people together and each person takes a turn to tell their story. The story is told in a particular format. There’s a very simplified format of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, which is the challenge, then what happens, and then what results you get at the end. So that’s why it’s in this simple three step format here. In the beginning the teacher tells the story about how things were and basically the prompt is just, in the beginning, what was happening?
And so we get a lot of evidence about what’s happening in the classroom here. And then the invitation is for the teacher to talk about the actions. What were you inquiring into? What was your initiative that made a difference for this student? It’s very success focused.
So then, the teacher tells what happens in the initiative side of things over here. The teacher in this story, Mary, she was very relationship focused and she’d spent some time looking at Te Kotahitanga, and she’d been using some of her knowledge there in the Primary classroom. And so the story that she told was very relationship focused. She talked a lot about learning to use inclusive language, and she talked about bringing the Samoan language into her classroom. She used a lot of music and dance and so she brought the culture in there as well. Her idea here was to build trust with every student by having one-to-one time every morning and so this was her focus. Now because this was her really, really strong focus, she wasn’t thinking about all of the other things that she might have done as well.
And when it came time for the group to ask their questions, we got this huge amount of information. So we’ve got these layers of things happening at the same time. Along the top we’ve got the person telling the story. So we’ve got the story that’s drawn out just in simple graphics.
But underneath that, normally we have somebody writing the text of the story as well. And we have somebody timing the story, to make sure that it’s not a rambled story. It needs to only be four or five minutes. And then underneath that, we’ve got another layer which is the group asking their facilitative questions and bringing through that deeper knowledge which may have been missed by the storyteller in the first place. It’s a powerful method of actually bringing all of that knowledge together.
In terms of being different from other assessment systems, it differs in three particular ways. First of all it differs in people and the number of people who are involved. Because normally when we assess learning, say, for Amoso, we assess learning for Amoso and what we want to know is, how much does he know? What can he do? And it’s all about him. When we assess learning and evaluate learning in this way, what we’re doing is we’re telling a story, not about Amoso but we’re telling a story about Amoso and his teacher.
So that’s the people side of it. When we tell stories in Story Hui, we talk about what’s happened over a period of time, so it’s a bit of a, sort of, epic story over time. It might be a term, it might be six months. But that gives us a much more robust piece of evidence.
Each group has a facilitator who knows that facilitative questioning is the only method of questioning. And so one of the things that’s really important for the storyteller is that the mana always stays with the storyteller no matter what. Nobody can say, “Oh I think you should do this”, or, you know, “Why didn’t you do that?”. And that’s a really, really important part of the process to actually set up those protocols first and also sometimes to talk about aspects of confidentiality, if that’s appropriate as well. I think that the fact that it’s timed, probably is one of the greatest factors in making sure that one voice is not louder than the rest.
Parani Temoana: For me it’s more beneficial because now I’ve seen what it looks like in a different form, you know seeing all the kupu that we’ve got down the bottom and the pictures, the beautiful pictures up top. It’s been really cool. To see where we’ve been, where we’re going, where we are, and where we want to go. It’s been like wow! We did all that in like how many months?
Tania Chapman: I think it becomes just a given that we go into a classroom and do this [inquiry] and it’s not until we sit back and go, well actually I didn’t realise it was that big a picture, it’s when you’re reflecting back on it and you’re seeing this and you’re going oh actually, you know, there was quite a lot going on in there and I didn’t realise that beforehand so it makes you reflect back into the process of what you are putting your children through and how you go about it.