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                 Power  Of  The Prompt 
                                  Linda Belans, Ed.D


  • Create and foster a strengths-based culture

  • Discover tools and ideas through story-sharing

  • Create and nurture a sense of belonging

During the ongoing process of storytelling, complementary talents and skills emerge. This occurs when teams have the intention, patience, and commitment to embrace each other’s unfolding stories overtime. We transition from working as individuals to a collective body moving in tandem and harmony toward a unified vision.


Begin each meeting or PD with a specific prompt to help set the landscape. We can match the prompt to the collective transformation we are seeking.

Prompts begin with: Take us to a moment when...

Examples: Take us to a moment when you knew you created a successful teaching and learning experience.  Take us to a moment when you coached a team member to her highest self. Take us to a moment when you interrupted racism.  Take us to a moment when you felt brave. And so on.


Approach and receive prompts, stories, and responses in a respectful, sacred way. Be fully present. It is the responsibility of the witnesses/team to listen without judgment and without making suggestions. 



Here is an example of a specific prompt and story response that occurred during a PD:


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

I hear a teacher yell at Quenton because he keeps falling asleep in class. I decide to practice compassion by being curious. I ask him: “What’s going on, Quenton?” He tells me that he can’t sleep at night and has gruesome, graphic dreams. He says that since his father and mother had to leave, 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 Quenton 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. Quenton 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 Quenton 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 compassion and curiosity.






Suggested Guide

Number of participants

  • 2- 5


  • 3-5 minutes per storyteller.

  • About 2 minutes for Witnesses responses.

  • About 30 seconds of reflective silence between each storyteller.



Facilitator offers the prompt: Take us to a moment when...

Storyteller responds in present tense if possible.


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

  • At the end of the story, each Witness offers one or more of the following:

    • A strength they heard.

    • An idea they might try.

    • Something that moved them.


  • Receives Witnesses’ offerings without responding to them.  


  • Thank the Storyteller for her story.


Facilitator asks for reflective silence.

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