Angela Maiers Q&A
I first encountered Angela Maiers when I attended her session at last November’s Reinvention Summit. I wasn’t that excited by the idea of her session because her area is education, focusing on K-12, while I’m much more interested in postsecondary ed. But I immediately got swept up and enthralled by her passion and enthusiasm. I am most excited to have her join the Q&A series.
Bio: [From her Web site]: Angela Maiers is an award-winning educator, speaker, consultant and professional trainer known for her work in literacy, leadership and global communications. She is a consistently energized and recognized worldwide speaker greatly impacting leadership through not only the education field, but the international business community as well. Challenging educational philosophies and business ethics, Angela strives to achieve total synergy and unstoppable energy by reconstructing the thought process of many dated ideologies.
Today, Angela is at the forefront of New Literacy and Web 2.0 technologies. An active blogger and social media evangelist, she’s deeply committed to helping learners understand the transformational power of technology. Her intimate knowledge of teaching and learning, down-to-earth style, and powerful message of personal empowerment have made her a highly sought after keynote speaker and a vibrant courageous voice in both the business and education space.
As owner and lead consultant at Maiers Educational Services, she uses her passion for literacy and technology to discover creative ways to assist schools and organizations in meeting their learning and productivity goals.
She is an alumnus of The University of Iowa with a master’s degree in Educational Supervision and Reading. She has spent 22 years working in elementary, middle and university settings as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, coach, special programs facilitator, and university professor.
When she is not at home in Clive, Iowa, spending time with her husband and two teenage children, you will find her on her blog or on Twitter at @angelamaiers — her favorite space for thinking, creating, and pushing the scope of her imagination and learning.
Q&A with Angela Maiers:
Q: You said in your Reinvention Summit session that education needs to be reinvented, not reformed. Most people would probably agree, especially after viewing documentaries like Waiting for Superman. But given that such reinvention certainly won’t happen overnight, what can parents do to ensure their children are storytellers and story appreciators?
A:Parents need to understand that their children are far more unique than anyone could possibly imagine. Rather than expecting a certain car, eer path or specific qualities from a child, parents need to embrace those talents that their children our given and understand that all children can be geniuses and leaders in their own special field.
Like, Haley, whom I wrote about in my book [Editor’s note: Learn more about Haley here], Classroom Habitudes, many children are subjected to criticism for not fitting to a certain standard. Rather than encouraging this, parents need to embrace the differences of their children. Storytelling is integral to this process. Through storytelling, key truths can be communicated, and the process of learning can be much more effective and more compelling for students. If parents and educators alike focus on the power of stories, we could see a far stronger future with far more people communicating their stories effectively to make a difference across the globe.
Q: The storytelling movement seems to be growing explosively. Why now? What is it about this moment in human history and culture that makes storytelling so resonant with so many people right now?
A: Storytelling has always been the center of human communication, from the oral tradition of ancient civilizations to the blog posts of today. What is novel about storytelling in the modern day is that we now have the ability to share our stories with larger groups of people in a far shorter time frame. We can use technology to communicate with people across the globe to truly change the world. As more and more people discover this phenomenon, more and more stories can be shared, and the sheer volume of stories now emerging through technology is the driving force behind global change that is creating the image of the growth of storytelling. In truth, storytelling has always had a critical impact on our lives, and we now simply have a greater capacity to harness that impact using the Web.
Q: The culture is abuzz about Web 2.0 and social media. To what extent do you participate in social media? To what extent and in what ways do you feel these venues are storytelling media?
A: I try to be as involved as possible in as many social-media venues as I possibly can. I work through almost all of [the most popular venues], though I focus on blogging as my main form of communication.
In my opinion, these mediums are integral to storytelling in the modern world, and, indeed, their founding ideas are all, at base, storytelling itself. Social media would not be successful without the small stories that are Twitter posts and status updates or larger, socially curated stories such as those that I post on my blog.
Social media is an effective way to communicate personal stories with a large audience for the greatest possible effect, and I believe that in the future social media will become the core of our storytelling culture.
Q: To what extent do you think the storytelling approaches you tout could apply to older students — say, high school and college?
A: While storytelling these days is often thought of as an elementary activities, often just a time-filler in an under-developed lesson plan, storytelling does not end with graduation from 5th grade. Any person, no matter how old, has the capability to make a change, and I believe that the change actually begins at the story level, and that the way that we perceive and experience reality is based on the stories that we tell and that we listen to. This is basically how the world works at all levels. Whether we think something is real or false, whether we think something is important or not, whether it is worthy of our intention or it is just noise, it comes down to the story and whether we choose to believe in that story. Storytelling is an art that people of all ages need to learn to be able to communicate and make an impact in whatever field they choose to excel in.
Q: If you could share just one piece of advice or wisdom about story/storytelling/ narrative with readers, what would it be?
A: Everything that you do, from the tiniest actions to world-changing events are part of your story. It is true what they say about even the smallest help being able to make a difference. Do everything that you can in your life to make your story as personal and unique, but also as influential as you possibly can so that you can be the best you can be.