Goal: Tell Your Story

Part of the Goals 2010 Challenge Series, Goal 17

Many of us have caught the social media fever. We love our Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) and want to persuade all educators to participate. However, Twitter, nings, blogging, and did I mention Twitter, are not appealing to a majority of educators. In a past post, Most Teachers Don’t Live There, I reflect on my reasons for wanting teachers to live in blog land and Twitter world. In spite of my convictions and passions, I do not try to sale social media and web 2.0. I have come to learn that sharing my personal learning journey is a better way. My blog is one way I do this. Many of you know a lot about me including what I looked like when I was a baby. My long-term goal is to begin sharing my personal learning journey at presentations.

Crafting Our Stories

In Marti Side’s recent post, The Story of Kunami10, she shares her journey about receiving her black belt. Marti does not paint a pretty picture. In fact, she talks about bruising and being so sore she did not want to get out of bed. I love this about her story. When we talk to others about our journeys we need to paint a complete picture. Yes, I had to invest time in learning about technology. I made many mistakes and really embarrassed myself at times. Technology and social media are not easy and do take time to learn. Some people will need to invest more time than others. If they are not prepared well for this reality, then they will be completely turned off to technology. I have seen this happen to many teachers who were forced to use technology in their schools with no notice or preparation. Some get very hostile if you mention the “T” word.

Another part of your story, should be to share what you learned and how you learned this. When possible, we should offer guidance and resources. Later, we may also have to check-in and see how the educator’s journey is going with technology.

Sharing Stories with Students

One of the most powerful ways to connect with your students is to share your journeys. Many of our students may not believe we relate to them. By sharing our personal stories we can overcome the generational gap and show our empathy. I am not saying we should get uncomfortably personal, but every once in awhile our colleagues and students can be inspired by our personal journeys. A wonderful example of a teacher connecting with his students is Jim Burke’s post, When the Teaching Gets Too Real. By posting this experience in his blog, Jim Burke also managed to reach many educators as well.

The Challenges

If you are just joining the challenge or missed a challenge, here is a list of all the goals we have accomplished so far.

  1. Keep a Diary
  2. Contribute to a Blog Carnival
  3. Start an Adventure
  4. Support a New Blogger
  5. Update Your Online Profiles
  6. Set a Google Alert
  7. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
  8. What’s Your Personal Theme Song?
  9. Be a Guest Blogger
  10. Make A Connection
  11. Ask, Perhaps You’ll Receive
  12. Reach Out
  13. Give Students Reign
  14. Cause a Ripple
  15. Create: 40 Writing, Music, & Art Resources
  16. Voice Your Appreciation

Congratulations to all who have participated! Even if you only completed one goal, you have accomplished something amazing in 2010!


Share a personal triumph or failure with someone. Sharing this with your students may help you connect with them on a deeper level.

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This is goal 17 of this series! If you’d like to join the challenge, please read this post with more details!

Don’t forget to leave a comment that you accomplished this goal using the hashtag #30Goals!

When has sharing your personal story inspired your colleagues or students?

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/ShellyTerrell, and on her blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/presentations


  1. Nope – it wasn’t pretty at all.
    But I do agree that sharing personal experiences connects us more with our audience – whether its teachers or students. You must have trust in any relationship – including those that might be professional – and sometimes, that means sharing a little more about who you are personally.

  2. I certainly agree that we need to be authentic and good story tellers, especially to invite our students to open up and tell their own stories. But on the whole many of us teachers living abroad, at least those working in adult education, may actually be sharing more than enough information with our students. Using our native tongue to hold forth to a rapt audience is rather a temptation. That’s one of the advantages of playing storytelling games as a group, with rules you as the teacher must also abide by.

    • Anne,

      When writing this there were definitely reservations I had, because I feared some might take this in the wrong way. Mostly, I was worried about someone sharing too much personal information. However, you brought up another great point which is that we cannot use this as another rationalization for monopolizing class time. Definitely, hearing our students’ personal stories as well is what would make this work. Thank you for bringing up this point.

  3. Students love when we give them a glimpse into our lives. When they hear about what we enjoyed as a kid, times that we got in trouble, what we were known for. one of the best things we have done as a school, is post our picture of the age we teach. (Since I see everyone, I have several pictures). Most of these pictures are dorky and embarrassing, but it reminds kids that we all go through those funny stages.

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