Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Jun 16, 2020

Storytelling School with The Moth: Weekly Storytelling Activity #18

by The Moth Staff

Lesson #18: SELF-REFLECTION: "Beyond the Call of Duty"- Maxie Jones

Here’s another Storytelling School with The Moth! We are in the midst of a difficult time that can feel hard to process, both for ourselves and for our young people. For this week’s blog, we’re taking a look at a story about the impact of our teachers.

This week’s Storytelling School story is:

“Beyond the Call of Duty” by Maxie Jones

You can read the transcript of Maxie’s story here.

1.Talk to each other about Maxie’s story.

For each post, we’ll highlight a different crafting strategy for how to make your story compelling. For this post, we’ll focus on SELF-REFLECTION. Storytelling can provide the (sometimes rare) opportunity to examine how we feel about memorable events in our lives. If we can allow ourselves to honestly explore how an experience has changed us, it can be cathartic for the teller and inspiring for the listener.

  • Maxie tells us that he didn’t really realize the impact Mr. Goldberg had on him until much later. Since we don’t usually tell a story immediately after the event, we have the benefit of self-reflection and can recognize how something has changed our lives or our perspective. Think about a time you were impacted by a person or event in your life. How might you have told that story at the time vs. how you’d tell it now? 

  • The emotion of remembering what Mr. Goldberg said at graduation is evident as Maxie tells this story. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the STAKES of a story are important to clarify so that we know what matters to the storyteller. What are some other details Maxie includes that help us understand the stakes?

  • It is important to check in with people around us right now to see how they’re doing- particularly our Black colleagues and students. Mr. Goldberg cares enough to check in with Maxie, recognize a larger context for his behavior in class, and advocate for him with other teachers. In what ways can you check in meaningfully and advocate for others (or for yourself) right now? Telling and listening to each other’s stories is a great way to do this!

2. Let’s Play “Have You Ever”

Raise your hand if… 

  • You’ve ever had a teacher who made a huge impact on your life 

  • You’ve ever daydreamed during class

  • You’ve ever known the answer even if you weren’t really listening

  • You’ve ever lost the motivation to be somewhere every day

  • You’ve ever had a teacher stand up for you

  • You’ve ever had a teacher check in with you meaningfully outside of class

  • You’ve ever questioned the value of education 

  • You’ve ever surprised yourself with your own success

  • You’ve ever had an important guest at your graduation 

  • You’ve ever realized the difference between being academically capable and feeling moved to show up and succeed

  • You’ve ever inspired someone to show up

  • You’ve ever showed up because someone was expecting to see you

Did you raise your hand? If you raised your hand even once, that’s a story you could tell! Find someone to tell it to and try out a draft!

3. Activities

  • Whether you’re graduating this month or you graduated decades ago, can you think of a teacher who had an impact on you? Take a moment to thank them! Write them an email or letter, look through an old yearbook, tell someone a story about that teacher, or any other way you can think to celebrate them! Our teachers work so hard for us and deserve to be appreciated :)
  • Maxie tells us how important it was that Mr. Goldberg was there for his graduation. A lot of folks are headed into graduation right now in a very uncertain time.  Even if your graduation ceremony is being held virtually, as a teacher, how can you really show up to support your students? And as a student, how can you show up for yourself and your friends?
    • Here are a couple articles, from Parade and CNN, with ideas of how to plan a virtual graduation party!

4. Share this post with a friend!

And check back Tuesday for another story.

Be sure to check out All Together Now, Fridays with The Moth, wherever you listen to your podcasts, new every Friday!

Maxie Jones was born in the Bronx and lived in Harlem for 15 years before moving to Michigan. It was there he discovered The Moth while mowing his lawn and listening to NPR. He attended his first Moth StorySLAM in 2014 and, since then, has told over 60 stories on Moth stages in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, and New York City. He has lots more stories to share and plans to keep telling them until the last one is told.

The Moth Education Program works with young people and educators to build community through storytelling workshops, performances and innovative resources. To learn more, visit themoth.org/education

The Moth Education Program is made possible by generous support from The Kresge Foundation, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the Kate Spade New York Foundation, and Alice Gottesman. 

Additional program support is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the New York State Council on the Arts, ConEdison, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.