Preparing for Story Workshop

“As experienced teachers well know, the surest road to hell in a classroom is to stick to the lesson plan no matter what.”   -Elliot Eisner

I love this quote from Elliot Eisner because I think it speaks to the importance of listening to the children we work with. I don’t think he writes this to encourage teachers not to plan, but rather to know their intentions well enough that they know when to defer from that plan based on the real needs, curiosities, and interests of the children they work with. As Donald Graves says, “Surprises are friends, not enemies.” When we encounter surprises, knowing our intentions makes it more likely that we will delight, marvel in, and follow those surprises to a place of deeper learning, rather than try to tightly control or stick to the lesson plan no matter what.

In this module, we’ll explore stories, resources, and ideas that I hope will support us in preparing for Story Workshop. One of the reasons we spent time in Module 1 articulating our beliefs is that it allows us to become more metacognitive about the ways in which those beliefs may or may not be influencing our practice. As we prepare for Story Workshop in a multitude of ways, we’ll keep returning to those beliefs as a foundation to come back to as we set intentions for each of our own unique settings.

Not only are we in different countries, cities, and communities, but also in different buildings, working with different children, families, colleagues, and administrators, with different assessments and expectations, not to mention that each of us is a unique individual with our own set of assumptions and beliefs. Because we and each of the contexts we work in is unique, the lens through which we approach Story Workshop will vary. My hope is that the resources and invitations in this module will support you to set your own intentions based on what you are curious about and what you hope to gain from our time together as you begin to practice Story Workshop in your setting. The goal of this course is not to replicate something that is already being done but to encourage you to ask your own questions, try out new ideas, set your own intentions, and play around with Story Workshop.

I believe that setting your intentions will make it easier to make other kinds of decisions about preparing for Story Workshop, such as how you choose to set up the environment, how you organize materials and time, and what you choose to document and pay attention to as you begin.

This module is organized into the following sections:

The Geography of Story Workshop

Setting My Intentions

Preparing the Environment

The Role of the Teacher: Teacher Research

Projecting First Engagements with Story Workshop

-Invitation: Setting Your Intentions and Taking Action

Don’t forget to grab your notebook and give yourself time to capture your reflections as you explore this content. Find a colleague to share in this work with you that you can read your reflections to and hear theirs!


Course Discussion