Storytelling has been part of human traditions since we have been able to communicate with one another! Traditional oral storytelling was one of the first form of communication.
Why do we tell stories?
We all are storytellers. Whether we are telling jokes or telling our weekend to our friends or the story of our day or the news we read we always tell stories. Telling stories and listening to stories with a beginning, middle and end help our brains to assimilate information and to make sense of it. Therefore it’s quite obvious that storytelling has to be part of teaching. Stories define who we are, shape our experiences of life and teachers are the ones who will help us develop as human beings so every teacher is a storyteller.
How to tell stories?
As a teacher I have told stories in many places around the world to different students and at different levels. No matter the age, there is always a good story to tell. I love telling stories and my students like hearing my stories and we even have some acting with their own stories. As I wrote in a previous article teaching is about having fun and storytelling is part of it. However before telling stories here are some steps you may want to follow to become a successful storyteller in your classroom.
- You should read as many tales, fables, myths, and legends as you can to get your inspiration.
- Watch some professional storytellers and take notes about what they do. Listen to their intonation, have a look on their body language and try to copy them while adopting your own style. The TV show the Storyteller is a good example of work you can use.
- Choose a story you are confident with. Pick up one that you really like and that you can remember well. If you sound interested by the story it’s more likely that your students will be too.
- Prepare it carefully. Take some notes about the story. Write down the main lines for you to remember and use the book as well when you’re telling the story.
- When you tell the story use an interesting intonation. Use your voice to create suspense, mystery to instill fear or laugh. Pause. Ask questions. Mime, use gesturesand accessories to make it more interesting.
- Engage your students in the story. Have them to play some parts of it, to contribute to the sounds effects as well.
Storytelling has many positive effects for the teaching-learning process. First of all there is this magical moment that makes storytelling a special event in the classroom. It’s a different moment when you can really share emotions, feelings and passion with your students. You’re no longer teaching from the front or guiding your students you’re just telling them a story. And still they are learning. Telling stories is an inspiring tool in itself but it can also lead to in depth thinking and also to some activities or games around the story. Another positive impact of telling stories is the enthusiasm it generates around reading. Especially if you have a class of young students you will notice that they will be more likely to get engaged in reading sessions if you endorse the role of the storyteller on a regular basis. Listening skills are also enhanced. And everybody is engaged. Girls are engaged because they like listening to stories and boys are engaged as well because they will like the acting part of it.
Becoming a storyteller is a wonderful though scary experience. But it’s really worth the try. The more you will try to tell students stories the easiest it will become. Telling stories doesn’t just stop inside the classroom; you could also find out that you have skills to run reading or storytelling clubs within your school or community! So now you just have to put yourself in the shoes of the storyteller.