Tell Your Story by Bob Sprankle

Budget. Cuts.

It's top of the chatter these days. I don't personally know of any school district who isn't dealing with severe budget cuts for the next calendar year. In each scenario, this means communities and school boards and administrators making very tough decisions on what can stay and what needs to go to make the numbers work. There are a lot of unknowns and a lot of worry in my own state of Maine. Many districts will be forced to let go of valuable and outstanding teachers as well as lose important and necessary programs.

It's a very rough time. Some say it's going to get a lot rougher.

Because we have to make the numbers work, I'm sure that no matter how hard those making the decisions try to resist it, there comes a moment (maybe more than once) where a program under chopping-block consideration is represented as a dollar figure rather than the "story" behind the program. Data can only tell so much about a program's worth; the narrative of its history, successes, goals, and dreams have to be as much a part of the consideration process.

I remember hearing David Warlick talk years ago about the necessity of schools telling "their own stories" ---in particular, telling the new stories of what is being done within our buildings and how our stories might be very different than the experiences much of our community had in education when they were in school.

We have the tools today to tell our stories in ways never before possible and make our work in schools visible to the community (global, in fact) at the click of a mouse button. I believe the importance of telling those stories is just as necessary during "calm" economic periods as it is during the tempest of these difficult times. By no means am I saying that having a well articulated and transparent story will guarantee the survival of programs or jobs, but, when your program (or position) is laid out on the table during budget time, wouldn't you also want that narrative to be readily available for administrators, school board members, parents, residents, elected officials, etc. to be able to examine it? By the time it gets to the table, isn't it too late to begin telling the narrative? Shouldn't these stories already have been told day in and day out?

So, I'm curious... How does your school or your program tell its story? What tools are people using to get the tales of success ---as well as the ones of struggles--- out to their communities? How many have YouTube channels dedicated to that effort? How many schools/programs are "Twittering" their narratives? How often do you get your message out? Is it only on Open House night, or is it daily? What are the successful "delivery packages?" (Personally, my own team at school just started Twittering daily on the front page of our website; 140 characters a day... it couldn't be easier).

I look forward to hearing your ideas and your methods and thank you for sharing them in the comment section below.