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June 18, 2012
Early childhood education standards can provide a solid and common foundation to support both articulation and innovation, meeting the needs and incorporating the wisdom of local communities, families, and practitioners.
-Hyson, 2003, p. 7.
In his last article for Exchange, "Growing Organizational Culture: The Power of Stories," Jim Greenman (author of the Exchange best-seller, Caring Spaces, Learning Places: Children's Environments That Work) talked about the power of stories to maintain and shape an organization's culture:
"Organizations with a strong culture typically have a well understood shared mission, shared language, and strong behavioral norms. The culture of an older organization grew from the history; what people said and (more importantly) did, shared experiences, and developed routines, rituals, and traditions. New members come to know the culture because it is embodied in the words and actions of members, in what is written and displayed, and in the stories passed on as people join the organization...
"Stories are how we transmit our truth, our insight, and our commitment. The more we dig into our experience, the more personal we are and the more universal the appeal. Stories are informational and emotional. The right story for the right audience creates sticky insights that fuel the outcomes that we desire....
"Shared stories and examples become part of the common wisdom. What’s the story we ask? Stories create a narrative for the center — a sense of a shared past and present. What kind of stories? Stories of heroic effort on behalf of a child or family: staying late, extra phone calls, or bringing resources; or stories of overcoming failure and successful change. Stories that reflect staff behaving at their best as defined by program mission and values.
"... An organization can intentionally use storytelling and stories, both formally and informally, to shape the culture. Informally, a leadership team can commit to telling stories as a means of recognizing issues and achievements, mentoring, and supervising others. 'Let me tell you a story... ' becomes a staple of mentoring. And storytelling as a more formal device can become part of every meeting or training as a planned element to project the kind of place the center is or aspires to be."
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