Teaching Storytelling to Early Childhood Educators
As a storyteller I have worked periodically with preschoolers. As a mom and grandma I have dealt with infancy through the preschool years. However, this is not my area of expertise.
In May, 2013, the Lt. Governor of Colorado, Joe Garcia, whose interests lie with Early Childhood Education and Higher Education, visited the San Luis Valley where I lived. He came to speak publicly about his interests. Jackie Merrill, National Chair of Spellbinders®, urged me to go to the public meeting to discuss storytelling as a means of engaging the Littlest Ones. She even put me in touch with the people in his office who could make this happen.
Through a series of emails, I was granted three minutes to talk in an open forum about Storytelling and Early Childhood Education. I knew I did not have the background necessary to make the pitch; so I asked the Storytelling Community for help. My help came mainly from Nicolette Heavey, who sent information and listened to my “speech.”
Together we decided I would tell a teaser line of a story, give him printed data about everyone’s “story mind” and finish with the suggestion that all Early Childhood Educators have access to a class/workshop to enhance their storytelling skills.
Thus armed I went to the meeting with a friend. Lt. Governor Garcia listened and so did the audience. In the audience was the director of the Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley. She called me in June to arrange a speaking engagement for their Annual Meeting in August. I needed to be more prepared; so at the National Storytelling Network Conference I attended Mij Byram’s workshop “Telling Little Ones and I Don’t Mean Lies.” Mij also said she would help me prepare for the keynote speech. But I fell and broke my foot and was in the hospital at the time of the meeting.
That did not stop the director. She then asked if I would teach a Continuing Education Class through Adams State University for Early Childhood Workers in the San Luis Valley. I agreed; then got busy. Busy reading what others said. Busy talking again with both Nicolette and Mij. By October 24, the date of the first class I was ready, and I was able to walk without the awkward boot on my foot. The class was a success. I believe I learned as much from my students and their students as they did from me.
Some of the things I learned: All children love listening to stories, participating in stories and telling their own stories. Babies will listen to stories. (That’s something I wish I’d discovered 36 years ago so my babies could have heard me tell them stories.) Little Ones are enthusiastic story lovers! It’s always good to stretch and grow.
The Call for Proposals came from the Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference to be held in March, 2014, during this time. My friend and fellow storyteller, Kate Lutz, urged me to send in a proposal. I reduced the 15 hour class I was teaching to its core and sent in a proposal which was accepted.
The Conference was this past weekend. The Workshop was an overwhelming success. Most of the 90 seats in the room were full. The comments afterward were positive. I fervently hope those who attended have a new resolve to use storytelling more often in their work. And I thank all those who helped me learn my lessons from the Littlest Ones among us. It’s been a gratifying journey, one I am glad I agreed to undertake.