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Inspire Webinar: Sharing Your Story Authentically

                On July 28th, 2021, Inspire Teaching and Learning worked with Harmony SEL to bring in Nate Howard to discuss what it means to share one’s story as a transformative step forward. Nate Howard is an author, storyteller, motivational speaker, and a social entrepreneur. He spoke to the audience about the organization he created called Movement BE(Brave Entrepreneur) and what it means to focus activism through education.

                One of the first things he discussed was what brought him to doing this work. Back in 2013, he experiences racial profiling on the University of Southern California campus and decided to organize a protest along with fellow students. This non-violent protest was met with 79 riot-gear clad officers and a premature detainment that showed him something very important. What he found was that there were assumptions about him as a young Black male and these assumptions led to the treatment and construction of how they viewed his story to be. This is the core of Movement BE, which is the necessity for people to share their story and own that story rather than allowing others that power.

                Through a series of meetings with youth and those interested in empowering youth, the mission of this group was developed. Movement BE was meant to raise student achievement, inspire self-confidence, introduce shared storytelling, provide a consistent environment for student expression, and destroy negative stereotypes and limiting beliefs. The focus of this organization has been on what it means to introduce transformative social-emotional learning wherein the student feels engaged, empowered, and seen.  Often times, students are expected to attend to the information being presented and may not feel that those around them are aware of the different elements in their lives that are impacted performance and feelings of belonging.

                The model that is often used by the organization is focused on creative writing wherein students are challenged to share what they believe in and what their experiences are. These writing prompts are not scored but rather can be worked on or shared in groups to allow for students to have an opportunity to connect with others and feel seen in the school setting. Later this fall, the organization is launching a web-friendly, mobile platform where the sharing of one’s story is gamified. The more that students log in and share about their experiences and their writings, the more that they can do with aspects of the platform such as avatars. The game avatar that they create can reflect what they are interested in, what they hope to become later in life, and who they are regarding different elements of their identity.

                The focus of this webinar is what students are currently going through as well as how do staff members create a space so that students can develop who they wish to become. As Nate Howard states, “…students are experiencing social media, unstable environments, and increased expectations of them.” For many students, they may not feel as though the educational staff want to see what they are experiencing in life. There may be assumptions already in place at their environments of learning that indicate some negative stereotypes being held in place. Part of this storytelling is that the students are given a space that holds a certain level of freedom and vulnerability so that they know they are the ones with the agency to develop the story in whichever direction seems most authentic. That was one key distinction made by Nate Howard and the direction of Movement BE is allowing students an opportunity to work with others so they can truly feel empowered as the authors and movers of their life missions.

                For more information on Movement BE, the link is provided: Movement BE Website. For other Inspire Teaching and Learning webinars, here is the link: Webinars Link.
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