Once upon a time...
It was a dark and stormy night...
Call me Ishmael...
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...
So, my cousin's best friend's sister told me...
In the beginning...
Words have power, and when those words connect us to a story, the power is exponential. Stories wrap us up in a blanket of imagination, and drift us off to new places and new experiences- some fantastical, some mundane, others terrifying.
Stories are our escape.
But our lives and the lives of students are stories, too. And they are not an escape, but reality.
For many of us, our story is a comedy or a drama, for some it is a horror. Our stories can be full of intrigue and adventure- but unlike the thrill we experience when we read these stories, these lives can lead to stress and emotional pressure. Every day you encounter students and fellow teachers living out a story, and the pages you need to turn are the emotions written in their eyes, they intonation of the voice, the posture with which they stand. When determining the stories going on around you, yours is a detective story, piecing together these emotions and inflections and looks and sighs- suble variations that tell you if this story you are seeing started out "Once upon a time, " or "It was a dark and stormy night."
It is important to remember that not all stories end the way they start, too. Beauty and the Beast ends better than it starts, but Romeo and Juliet does not. And not all stories are a single plot line. That teacher down the hall that seems to be struggling with their class is showing you just one storyline- what is going on at home, or with their health is a unique storyline but it is affecting the story you read as their neighbor.
My campus has talked about the danger of the single story this year, recognizing that when we believe one thing about a person- even if it is the dominant thing- we are not getting their whole story. That superstar student or teacher may seem to have it all together, but maybe they are hiding a deeper hurt, or masking a need for approval with a constant strive for success. That student or teacher who is struggling may have some epic tragedy unfolding.
A story can be a comedy and a tragedy all at once- I can use dark humor to deal emotionally with a trial- but no everyone gets it. While it is important that I strive to explain the narrative of my life, it is also my call to seek to understand the meaning in others'.
Your story is not just your own, and it informs the stories of others. And no matter how your story- or theirs- started, there is a chance to change the ending.
But it means being willing to get wrapped up in the stories of those around us- and embrace our own.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, Communication Applications and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team and co-sponsor Student Council. I am an aspiring administrator.