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A group of teachers sit at a table and participate in a story exchange

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Narrative 4, building connections and community

If you’re looking to build connections in your school or want to capture community narratives in these unprecedented times, Narrative 4’s story exchange can help

Narrative 4 teachers and facilitators participate in a story exchange training.
| Karlas Powell for Narrative 4

Educators around the world are wondering what their classrooms will look like come fall. Given the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, many school districts plan to offer at least a portion of daily instruction online.

How can administrators promote a positive school climate while social distancing? How can teachers build community and civic engagement from their home computers? How can you create space for conversations about complex issues in your school or community? The answer is Narrative 4.

Narrative 4 is a global organization driven by artists, shaped by educators and led by students. Our core methodology, the story exchange, is designed to help students understand that their voices, stories, actions and lives matter, and that they have the power to change, rebuild and revolutionize systems.

In a story exchange, participants are paired together and each person shares a story that in some way defines them. Afterwards, participants are responsible for retelling their partner’s story in the first person.

Through the exchange of personal narratives we see the world, and ourselves, more empathically, a belief supported by the work of neuroscientists and by the experiences of story exchange participants.

Narrative 4 student ambassadors from Kentucky and New York smile after sharing stories.
Karlas Powell for Narrative 4

Narrative 4 is currently working with school districts to help them promote authentic social-emotional learning opportunities, enhance the global classroom experience, and create more empathetic communities through our unique story exchange methodology.

Hazel Joseph-Roseboro, Principal of University Heights High School in the Bronx, New York, explained the impact Narrative 4 has had in her school, “When students listen to others, have empathy for each other, and think critically, they’re going to go on to impact the world. I think that if we really worked with Narrative 4, and had it in more schools and more communities, the level of empathy, the level of discourse would go up.”

Lauren, a student ambassador from Floyd Central High School in Langley, Kentucky said of her Narrative 4 experience, “If you had asked me what was possible in this world a year ago, I probably would have been like, ‘Well, nothing’s possible because this world is in shambles.’ Since I’ve been introduced to Narrative 4, there’s literally nothing I can think of right now that I think is impossible.”

A recent survey by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence found that schools using the story exchange have better school and classroom climates. According to the survey, students in N4 schools are less likely to feel negative emotions and more likely to feel positive emotions in school.

If you’re looking to build connections in your school or want to capture community narratives in these unprecedented times, Narrative 4’s story exchange is for you! You can connect your class with students from around the world and hear stories from communities beyond your own.

We have virtual story exchanges happening in the United States, Ireland, Nigeria, Colombia, Mexico, Canada and more. Sign up for a virtual story exchange at narrative4.com/live.


Chalkbeat’s editorial staff had no role in writing or preparing this paid content. Learn about our sponsored content policy.