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TAG Philly Story Slam - reframing the 'failing school' refrain

By Samuel Reed III on Sep 18, 2012 04:09 PM

If you love stories, you should plan to attend TAG Philly's annual Teacher Story Slam. The back- to-school event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at Zocalo Restaurant, 3600 Lancaster Ave.

Let me tell you a story…

Because the human brain is wired for stories, I bet you were all ready to follow a narrative with an attention-grabbing opening, a topsy-turvy plotline, and some satisfying ending or lesson to learn.

TAG Philly is planning a yearlong series of events anchored around storytelling. TAG will provide training and media-focused offerings that will shape and influence the narrative of education reform in the city. Letting teachers, parents, and community members tell their stories is a powerful way to combat the multimillion-dollar public relations campaigns that are being waged to privatize schools and frame educators as the problem and schools as failures.

Stories matter…

The opinion piece "Dispatches from a ‘low-achieving' Philadelphia school," in the Inquirer by Hillary Linardopoulos, a 3rd-grade teacher at Julia deBurgos School,  provided a powerful counter-narrative that takes issue with labeling her school as "low-achieving."

Linardopoulos’ story evoked a powerful image of a teacher and students engaging in the real struggles and strategies of an under-resourced, yet thriving, school.

The script needs to be flipped ...

TAG Philly wants teachers, parents, and students to share the narratives of the amazing tragedies and triumphs that take place in our schools. Throughout the school year, TAG will use storytelling to empower educators:

  • TAG plans to conduct one of its Media Empowerment workshops during the Philadelphia Writing Project’s annual Celebration of Writing and Literacy on Nov. 10. (To submit a proposal, contact before the Sept. 30 deadline.)
  • TAG will continue to share teachers’ stories through its annual ITAG (Inquiry to Action) seminars held weekly from late January 2013 to early April 2013.
  • TAG will culminate its yearlong storytelling and media events with its annual TAG Curriculum and Liberation Fair.

As a disclaimer, I am an active member of TAG Philly and will serve as the co-host for the Teacher Story Slam with Anissa Weinraub (an awesome storyteller). At last year’s Teacher Story Slam, audience members laughed, had some tearful moments, and were inspired to make a difference in our school communities.  

As a sign of solidarity, a special "TAG-Philly Stands with Chicago Teachers" group photo will be shared with Teachers for Justice, our TAG affiliate in Chicago.

So how about you tell us a story?

Teachers, parents, and community members are encouraged to come prepared to share their education stories or be a supportive audience member. If you would like to find out other ways you can write, record, or present your story about real education reform, visit TAG Philly online or follow @tagphilly on Twitter.


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Comments (10)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 19, 2012 7:18 pm

I'm so excited to gather with fellow teachers and educators tomorrow night! Teacher Action Group is an inspiring community and always makes me feel re-filled and energized. Thanks, Sam, for posting this.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 19, 2012 7:00 pm

Good Stuff BUT it's meaningless without the PFT standing up for it. Anybody who can't see the vast difference between the PFT and the Chicago Teacher's Union is just not looking. Those folks don't plan, the PFT is a joke and has been for the last few years.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 19, 2012 9:11 pm

I sadly agree with you. Those Chicago teachers stood UP for themselves. Philly lies down and waits to become Detroit. :-(

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on September 19, 2012 10:08 pm

Sorry--meant to say they don't play, not plan.

Submitted by Samuel Reed III on September 19, 2012 10:00 pm

PFT is taking a  proactive and leading role in the PCAPS Save Our School Conference, to he held this Saturday at Kessington CAPA . Folks should come out and let their voices be heard.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 19, 2012 11:07 pm


"put up or shut up" about the PFT. The leadership is powerless without its members behind them. Chicago put 10,000 members in the street when leadership called. PFT leadership held a vote on a new contract and 1,200 (out of 9,000) showed up! PFT leadership held a rally last spring outside 440 to protest the Boston Consulting Group's recommendations and 200 (out of 9,000) members showed up!

Let's see how many members show up at Kessingon CAPA this Saturday and the 24th at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.beginning at 7:00 pm.

People complaining about Jerry Jordan and the PFT need to "put up or shut up!"

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on September 20, 2012 7:53 am

It all starts at the TOP !! Why is it the turn out is so poor?? It's ALL connected even with the new math. Think !!

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on September 19, 2012 9:51 pm

Hey Sam:

Here's a poem about my classroom. Be assured I write every day!

Angle's Chiseled Face

a la wooley's whitney crawford (over my desk) : your wrong

junot diaz just wants
to be a boy.

thru paris
tuned franco

blues lost desert

children are wild
- best desert
is mild!

angel's chiseled face styled

the day a child teach quilting time

by mr bearden

Submitted by Samuel Reed III on September 19, 2012 9:45 pm


Thanks for sharing a little poetica. Snaps Snaps. Bro

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on September 19, 2012 9:19 pm

any time

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