I’ve had so much fun browsing through your 6-word coaching visions for the September Coaching Challenge, so I thought I’d share a bit more about how I use the 6-word story in my coaching, lifted directly from the pages of my Coaching Sketchnote Book.

Have you heard of the 6-word story? Or the 6-word memoir? Or the 6-word vision? I love things in bite-sized packages: tiny notebooks, miniature dark chocolate nuggets and little bits of information to consider, question and reflect on. After all, good things come in small packages, right?

I first realized the power of big ideas packed into small text with the 6-word memoir project: one life, six words. You can learn moreabout the 6-word project from Larry Smith’s YouTube Video.  It’s a simple, creative way to get to the essence of anything with big thinking, but short text. And there are so many possibilities for using it in our work with teachers. Here are just a few:

As introductions: Encourage teachers to create a 6-word story that represents who they are. It’s the perfect way to kick off the school year or introduce ourselves to a new team working together, adding a bit of fun and a whole lot of conversation along the way. Here’s mine (and yes, I know it looks longer than 6 words, but when you link a number to the word with a hyphen, it works for me! =):

As reflections: After a professional learning session, ask teachers to reflect and write a 6-word takeaway that best captures their learning. They can orally share them or post on sticky notes as they leave the session. Here's one of my favorites after exploring the roles of reading levels in our classrooms: Levels: Teacher tools, not student shackles. 

As a team-building exercise: Invite teams of teachers to create a shared vision for their work together in the form of a 6-word story. Post the story on a piece of chart paper and add colorful images, too. Here's one of my recent 6-word story visions and another vision from Lisa, a fellow literacy coach who tried this very activity with her teachers:

To capture classroom learning: Ask teachers to create 6-word stories about their classroom activities and student learning. When shared, they can launch powerful conversations about teaching and learning in the school. And, if you create these stories regularly, they become excellent artifacts of learning across the year.

As writing prompts: Get teachers' creative juices flowing by sharing powerful 6-word stories shared online and ask them to use it as a creative writing prompt so they can do the same with their students. Here’s one shared online that’s pretty timely for educators and sure to prompt conversation:

So, how do you do it? First, you'll want to explain the idea behind the 6-word story and give teachers a few examples to have fun with. Then, choose how teachers will share their stories. You can keep it super simple and stick with sticky notes. Ask teachers to craft their 6-word stories and post them on chart paper or even on the wall as they leave your session. If you want to capture them digitally, challenge teachers to stylize their 6-word stories on Canva or another design tool and upload to a shared Padlet wall. Or, if you really want to get collaborative, create a shared Google Slides presentation and give teachers editing rights. They can each choose a slide to celebrate their 6 little words in real time and then browse the creative efforts of their colleagues, learning a new way to engage students online, too.

Those are just a few ways I currently use 6-word stories in my coaching, but I’ll keep updating this page of my notebook each time I find another use for this kind of creative micro-writing. So, you have six words….what’s your story to tell today?

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  1. I love the 6 word exercise ! Thank you for listing all the ideas in one post.

    1. I am glad you like the ideas! Which do you think you might try first?

  2. Thank you for sharing Stephanie. I especially love the idea of using this as a reflection after Professional Learning. I am adding that to my toolkit for next time I facilitate PL/PD.

    1. I'm so glad to hear that! Be sure to let me know how it goes!


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