“Developing Stories that Amplify Our FCS Voice and Impact”
and “Enhancing Competence in the Science and Craft of FCS Storytelling”
Dr. Nancy Franz, Professor Emeritus
Iowa State University School of Education
Dr. Nancy Franz gave the keynote at the opening session of the AAFCS Annual Conference and Expo in St. Louis this past June. Recently retired from the Cooperative Extension System, she spent her career researching the conditions that promote transformative learning in nonformal learning environments, and measuring and articulating Extension program quality and value. I had the privilege of hearing the keynote address to kick off the conference, as well as a second presentation during the “Say Yes to FCS Summit” on the last day. Dr. Franz’s messages were inspiring and included some great ideas for us to design stories to share about our profession in positive and effective ways.
Creating strategic stories advocating for Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) is a struggle our profession has been facing for many years. Dr. Franz and Margaret Van Ginkel published an article in the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences in 2011 to propose their vision for creating a “public value movement for FCS” to share our value with the public. Her message about sharing our stories emphasized the importance of changing the public value, meaning, and significance of our work. We need to train each other to show what we value and why others should value it. It also helps us professionally if we can critically reflect on our work as we are sharing with others, as well as teaching about our own identities and the unique characteristics of our profession.
Nancy also had us complete some activities during her presentations. Here are some of the ways she had the participants write about how we would implement story telling into our conversations:
1. What are your three top reasons for training others to develop and use FCS stories?
2. How can we communicate science and more than science through our stories?
a) What are the technical, research, emerging programs or issues, progress and/or impact reports we have developed?
b) How have we built relationships with others, made historical connections with home economics, expressed numbers into meaningful information and created connections with community partners?
3. What types of FCS stories are the most needed and why?
a) How could we share our origins or historic information about who we are?
b) How would you communicate what we do within our practice and why it is essential?
c) What changes we have seen and been a part of within our profession?
4. What are the most important FCS story themes and why?
For this question, I wrote that the people stories have more to do with making personal connections. Teachers say that the relationships we form with our students is one of the most fulfilling aspects of our content. For the second one I thought about how I wish everyone in our society took our profession more seriously, so having this be a part of my conversations underlies most of my messages. The third was collaboration, because I think action and change can only take place if we can get people to lean in halfway.
5. How do we develop strong stories?
a) What are the most important aspects of the Science of Storytelling?
Treat storytelling like a report and identify who, what, when, where, how, and so what? Use a template to share, including the title, relevance, responses, results, and contact information. There is also a formula to storytelling:
Information + Thinking =
Knowledge + Meaning =
Value and Impact
b) What are the most important aspects of the Craft of Storytelling?
When telling a story, make sure to include the facts and events within a setting with characters and a plot. Look for examples that are meaningful, not just for public relations or marketing. Sanitizing the stories can cause them to lose some value, so keep it real. Know your audience and use the examples that are sensitive to their experiences, but also will connect with them emotionally. I hope that by using nuances it will allow for deeper discussions and internalization to personal meanings.
6. What is important about developing stories? Dr. Franz had these questions as part of her presentation at the Summit:
a) What stories keep you happy and passionate about your work?
b) What culture of FCS do our stories reveal and what should they reveal?
c) What FCS stories do we need to tell?
d) How are they different or similar to the stories we currently tell?
Develop a story template:
Create the case, urgency, and capacity for FCS storytelling across the profession.
Some of the tools available to many professions include keynote outlines, coaching questions, logic mode or concept map templates, worksheets, templates, formula, checklist, sample stories and journal articles. Dr. Franz suggests additional ideas for addressing the “Art of Teaching Storytelling” including the use of many stories to share for illustrating points, starting with passion and emotion, staying focused on the public good and not just private gain, and use of a variety of teaching and learning methods. Some effective teaching methods include large or small group presentations, interpreting the meaning of stories, worksheets, templates, McClelland’s Motivation Theory Quiz, formulas, and coaching questions for group OR individual work.
Dr. Franz’s passion about our profession and sharing it with others was contagious and motivating. As I thought through some of the stories I tell my students at UNL, it makes sense that I should be having them share what makes them happy and passionate about becoming a FCS teacher. What about FCS do they value and how does that show up within the culture of our schools and communities? How can they use storytelling as a teaching strategy in their future classrooms? It would be wonderful to see some of the stories you all have to show your passion for FCS, so I hope you are motivated to start writing them!
Respectfully Submitted by Sheree Moser