Women “Architects” in Our Lives: A Storytelling Circle

Students share stories of the women “architects” in their lives (or in the world) who have most shaped their worldview or their values.

To the Teacher:

At Morningside Center, we are continuously practicing what we teach. Recently, staff participated in a virtual circle in which we shared stories of the women “architects” in our lives, or the women throughout our histories that have most shaped our worldview or inspired us to better embody compassion, empathy, justice, strength, joy, etc.

What resulted was a rich and moving share about the family members, community leaders and educators in our lives who possess the values we continue to uphold today. In addition to the incredible women activists who are often omitted from our monolithic understanding of history, there are the women who’ve shown up in our childhoods, and young adulthood, who deserve to be honored and uplifted for their love, resilience, their ability to heal and connect, and their inspirational leadership that’s left an indelible mark.

In this lesson for middle school and high school, students pay tribute to the women who’ve most impacted them. Through this storytelling circle, the women who may not be canonized in history books are deservedly valorized for their labor, achievements, and guidance.

an adult and child at an outside event looking at a paper together


Opening Ceremony

Warmly welcome students to today’s circle. Remind them that this month is Women’s Herstory month. Explain that we’re going to affirm and celebrate women throughout history, including our own personal histories.

Play the following video for students: “Black Women in History (feat. Rissi Palmer and Snooknuk).” After playing the video, pass around the talking piece and invite students to share what stands out to them in the video or a historical woman leader they previously didn’t know about.

As facilitator, you are encouraged to share the names of the women highlighted in this song: Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chisholm, Kamala Harris, Juno Frankie Pierce, Stacey Abrams, Felicia Davis, Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin, Ida B. Wells, Rebecca Crumpler, Alfreda Webb, Jane Hinton, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett.


Main Activity

Direct students’ attention to the following quote on chart paper or displayed on whiteboard or SmartBoard:

  • “Women are the real architects of society.” - Harriet Beecher Stowe, author and abolitionist

Elicit or explain what it means to be an architect: “a person who builds, a person who shapes our world or creates a way of being or doing that positively influences us, a person responsible for achieving a specific aim.”

Now, give students significant think time (1-2 minutes) to reflect on a woman, or women, in their lives, past or present, that they consider an “architect” or someone who’s positively shaped their world – the way they see it and how they act in it.

Once students have reflected and processed, model by sharing first. Consider sharing an anecdote that highlights the role this woman, or women, played in your life. Then pass around the talking piece and invite students to share about their women “architects.”

Continue around the circle until each student has had the opportunity to share or pass.

Thank students for sharing.


Closing Ceremony

Close out this circle by inviting students to respond to the following prompt:

  • Thinking about the women you shared about during our storytelling circle, what is one value or quality that you associate with them that you hope to exhibit in your own life?

Pass around the talking piece until each student has had the opportunity to share or pass. Model by sharing the values or qualities of the woman “architect” in your life to spark student thinking.

Thank students for celebrating the women in their lives.