Power Of The Prompt

                   Linda Belans, Ed.D


When we share our stories, we are reminded of the humanity in each other. When we take the time to understand each other's stories, we become more forgiving, more empathetic, and more inclusive. - Michelle Obama: author & former First Lady

When story is approached as sacred, we hear, feel, and see each other’s humanity. We can transcend our differences. This connection helps teams take transcendent steps: We transition from working as individuals to a collective body moving in tandem and harmony toward a unified vision. During the ongoing process of storytelling, complementary talents, skills, and areas of growth and vulnerability emerge. This occurs when teams have the intention, patience, and commitment to embrace each other’s unfolding of stories overtime.


Approach and receive prompts, stories, and responses in a respectful, sacred way. It is the responsibility of the team to listen without judgment or the need to do anything beyond being completely present in heart and mind. It is not the Witness’s responsibility to offer confirmation – or solace –to “fix” the person. The gift of listening is enough.



Suggested Protocol


Prompt: Take us to a moment when you actively demonstrated or practiced Love in your work with a student, classroom, family, or colleague.


Responding to the prompt

It can be helpful for the storyteller to respond to the prompt in present tense to bring her/him/them closer to the experience.  Example of present tense response to the prompt that Celia, an AP shared:

I hear a teacher yell at Quenton because he keeps falling asleep in class. I decide to practice love through a compassionate approach. I ask him: “What’s going on, Quinton?” He tells me that he can’t sleep at night and has gruesome, graphic dreams. He says that since his father left and his mother went to jail, he’s afraid that his aunt and grandmother, with whom he lives, will also go away. He’s on high vigilance all night and falls asleep during class. I feel this 8-year-old unburdening himself and I feel heartbroken. I ask him what he’s interested in. He enthusiastically responds that he loves science. I call his aunt and receive permission to bring Quinton home late because I want to take him to buy a science book.

The next day, I ask Quenton how his night was. He excitedly reports that he loves his new book and after reading it, fell into a deep sleep. Quinton let go of his nightmare, and I, in this moment, am living my dream of healing before teaching. I also understand that healing is a process, and that Quinton has a long way to go. And so do the teachers that I coach. I will begin to work with them tomorrow on listening and teaching through love.


Number of participants

  • Maximum of 5



  • 2 minutes per storyteller

  • About 1 minute for Witness response

  • About 30 seconds of silence between each storyteller.




  • Listen without judgment, interruption, or questioning the Storyteller.

  • At the end of the story, each witness offers what stuck with them, what they relate to, what felt like it could be their story.



  • Receives Witnesses’ offerings without responding to them.  


  • Thank the Storyteller for her story.