Tag Archive: narrative-inquiry

“Habit #5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Sean Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens


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A novice educational writer enters a party, and after listening for a couple minutes, he notices that it is a gathering of like-minded educators who are socializing and discussing important issues of the day. The newbie thinks, “ This is my chance to network and connect with as many people as possible!” Without so much as a greeting, he runs around the room and thrusts recent copies of his article into people’s hands. What is the likelihood that anyone in the room is going to read the article, let alone enter into an important dialogue with this party-crasher? By the way—did I mention that his BOSS is somewhere in the room?

The Internet has allowed like-minded individuals to connect globally and create self-governing social networks that hold meetings and gatherings at all times of the day or night. In some of the social networking sites, like Twitter, the din of the crowd can be so loud that important voices are drowned out by the incessant noise. When looking at the narrative above, one would suppose that the author who entered the room and thrust articles at people would be disregarded as just another loud mouth.

I am a relatively new professional blogger, but I have taught language arts skills in a public school for going on 14 years. Former students would laugh at me if I attempted to act in the same manner as the aforementioned party-crasher. Although I must admit, I have recently crashed many discussions on Twitter trying to populate this blog. My students would remind me of a previous lesson that focused on the quote, “Seek first to understand, then be understood, ” found in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.

Social networking creates an interesting environment for participants looking to network with like-minded educational professionals. Usually, the participant is sitting in isolation working on a computer without any established professional boundaries. This personal isolation of the physical space may have a negative impact on an individual’s perception of appropriate and positive social interactions. It is helpful for me to imagine my boss looking over my shoulder while I prepare a post for publication. It is difficult to predict who might wonder into a social networking event and listen in on a conversation.

The story featured at the beginning of this post is an illustrative example of a typical forum or social networking space online. When entering the room, one must listen to the conversation and pick up the narrative “thread.” After an understanding for the tone of the space, the guest can then enter into conversations with members. After trust and respect are established, a request to read a blog or other posting is acceptable.  I learned the hard way; although networking is valuable in professional life, one must never forget to always be mindful of positive social skills.

Gregory M. McGough, M.Ed.

CII Chief Academic Officer


…each student and teacher is engaged in the art of composing a life.”

-Anne Murray Orr & Margaret Olson

When I was hired by the Coalition for International Initiatives for their positive global impact initiative in education, I was reading an article by Anne Murray Orr & Margaret Olson titled Transforming Narrative Encounters. This particular research study focuses on the power of narrative-inquiry as a legitimate research tool in educational settings. The authors explains that transformations can be made in education through careful reflection and inquiry into the individual stories of teachers and students. As a part-time consultant and full-time English teacher, the notion that our lives are nothing but intersecting storylines appeals to me on a level that transcends the everyday.

One of the areas that interested me was the idea that curriculum development is shaped by teachers and students as they attempt to make sense of their worlds through the various rising actions and conflicts. It is this constructivist notion of curriculum that now drives the Triggering Teachable Moments (T2M) lesson design on the eKWIP website.

After reading the article on narrative inquiry, I began to think about the educational power of allowing students to author their own worlds with collaborative global partners. The eKWIP website is designed to open a collaborative platform for students in the US and India to attempt to share their stories and ultimately their worlds. The T2M model focuses on allowing students to develop narratives that add a rich narrative content to the otherwise stale academic standards. Teachers using eKWIP will be asked to establish an environment that is conducive to the development of a rich story line between the learners in the two countries and written in a purely digital medium.

As the storyline develops, the eKWIP team will be blogging about our journey as we try to make a positive global impact in global education collaboration.

Gregory M. McGough, M.Ed.

CII Chief Academic Officer