How to Transplant your Energy into Others through Storytelling

I’ve recently realized something pretty cool about my teaching practice: I love telling stories. (It is summer break, I have a lil’ more time to reflect on this kind of stuff) Now, if you know me, you might find this hard to believe, but hey, it’s true! It hit me while doing some unedited stream-of-consciousness writing (highly recommend, by the way). I had to ask myself, “What do I love most about teaching?” And here’s what I discovered:

1. The thrill I get before, during, and after preparing and presenting content, as well as the 
2. The joy I feel when connecting with students as they learn something new.
3. The excitement of watching students personalize and showcase their new skills.
4. The learning I gain from our exchanges.
5. The humbling experience of the whole teaching process.

These experiences are woven together with stories. Stories aren’t just for fairy tales—they’re fantastic for presenting factual and subjective content, whether it’s a new art form, a recent show, or just the magic of life. When I’m telling a story, I’m energetic, enthusiastic, and downright happy. This radiates out of me, positively affecting my mind, body, and soul. Why wouldn’t I share that?

So, what’s a story, and how can it help people learn? Good question. A story is essentially a work of art, an ancient and beautiful art form. It requires building a technique and style, then staying true to that style while adapting to your listeners. Stories have the power to create and carry imagination—a subject not taught in any school yet (I’m working on that). Stories help others create mental visions and images, transferring scenes of potential through the teller’s energy and enthusiasm.

As an art educator, storytelling is my greatest asset. When I set out to become a college art professor, I didn’t realize I was training to be a super communicator and an information exchange facilitator. More importantly, I learned that how information is transferred and communicated is crucial for retention and application. I’ve practiced storytelling as a means of inspired communication with students, colleagues, administrators, and fellow humans in general.

I have been teaching so many different courses each semester since 2002, with about 70 students per 15-week semester and another 30 over the summers, I’ve learned a lot about how people learn. I love dealing with real people, online and offline. I’m happy to share my experiences on this blog, but back to the subject at hand: you can teach people interesting facts about anything through stories—personal stories, experiences, discoveries, or the stories of others that inspire you.

How often do you share information that inspires you? Sometimes? Never? Here’s why you should: you can open someone’s eyes to new colors and processes, challenge unquestioned beliefs, and inspire life changes for the better. A story can awaken something inside someone they didn’t know existed, becoming the catalyst for motivated, energetic action. Storytelling is an art and a form of entertainment because of its effects on others. Stories create mental images and evoke feelings. A strong mental image plus an inspired feeling equals action, inspiration, and creativity.

When your eyes meet the gaze of a listener, a natural rapport can form with little effort, sometimes immediately. The storyteller who brings pleasure to the listener adds facts, ideas, feelings, or philosophies to their minds and souls, opening new doorways and lighting up new switches. Learning through storytelling exercises the emotional muscles of the brain and the human spirit—a wonderful habit to form. I promise it will open new windows to the imagination, which I believe to be our greatest human asset.

As an educator, it’s my intention to inspire and enrich others through learning, stimulate healthy reflective exercises, and achieve measurable results. This essay is part one of a two-part post. In part two, I’ll recap some reflections and break down the step-by-step process of using storytelling as a teaching method.

Stay tuned and check out more blog posts here ->