Showing posts with label appreciative inquiry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label appreciative inquiry. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Focusing on What Works!

The Thin Book Of Appreciative Inquiry by Sue Annis Hammond is just that, a very thin book (59 pages) that explains and describes the process of appreciative inquiry. Hammond describes Appreciative Inquiry this way,
The major assumption of Appreciative Inquiry is that in every organization something works and change can be managed through the identification of what works, and the analysis of how to do more of what works. (page 3)
I was first introduced to the ideas of Appreciative Inquiry by Gene Thompson-Grove, the head of Professional Development for the Public Schools of Brookline (my former employer). Recently, I've been reflecting on Hammond's 8 Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry and how they relate to my work as an Instructional Technology Specialist.

8 Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry (pages 20-21):
1. "In every society, organization, or group something works."
In a society that is always trying to solve problems, we often miss seeing what works. Those of us who evangelize educational technology in our schools, often complain that teachers aren't doing enough to integrate technology into their curriculum. Yet, there are many teachers and students in our schools who are doing great things. The first thing to do is to ask the questions - What is working?

2. "What we focus on becomes our reality."
If we focus on all of the ways that our schools are NOT preparing students for the 21st century then that will become our reality. In turn, if we take a look at all the ways we are preparing students to succeed in the future, we can use those positive models to inspire others to do the same. It is a much more pleasant reality.

3. "Reality is created in the moment, and there are multiple realities."
Our own perception of what is real might be very different than a colleague's perspective. OK, this one is a little too zen for me. I welcome your thoughts here.

4. "The act of asking questions of an organization or group influences the group in some way."
Just asking the question makes a difference. Think about the difference you could make by asking what IS working, rather than what is NOT working.

5. "People have more confidence and comfort to journey to the future (the unknown) when they carry forward parts of the past (the known)."
We can't and shouldn't expect teachers to abandon everything they know and do well in order to bring technology to their teaching. Technology is a tool that only works when it is placed in the hands of a thoughtful practitioner.

6. "If we carry parts of the past forward, they should be what is best about the past."
This brings it back to the positive. If we are going to keep doing what we have always been doing, let's make sure what we are doing is working.

7. "It is important to value differences."
Different opinions, different approaches, different perspectives all add value to an organization.

8. "The language we use creates our reality."
You are what you eat - OK I'm just checking to see if you are still paying attention. Choose your words carefully.

I'm going to try to carry these 8 assumptions with me into my work (and my life).


I have been writing in this blog for quite a while. Lately I feel like the things I wrote back then are still relevant today (despite the fast pace of change).  Some of you may remember these. I think they are worth re-reading. This one is from November 2007. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

You've got to accentuate the positive...

Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

My recent experience at Educon has lead to a lot of soul searching and thinking for me. We talk so much about change in education, new skills, things students and teachers and administrators need to do differently. And yes there are many things that need to change, should change, have to change. But there are also many things that work really well in education, in the schools we went to, the schools we work in, the schools we visit, and the schools our children attend.

I just started reading The Power of Appreciate Inquiry. A Practical Guide to Positive Change. I am loving this approach which involves "uncover[ing] and bring[ing] forth existing strengths, hopes, and dreams-to identify and amplify the positive core of the organization." I think this approach has great potential to give us a new lens to identify where schools should be going.

So let's make the glass half full. What would you keep? What are you doing in your school that works? What are some of the essential elements of schooling that you feel should stay the same?

Here are a two of my keepers:
  • Face to face conversations between kids and adults when we are engaged and thinking and passionate about our ideas.
  • The energy that comes from searching, exploring and uncovering the answer to a burning question, in myself and in my students.
Appreciative Inquiry suggests that we get what we study. If we focus on what is wrong, we get more of what is wrong. "We do not describe the world we see, we see the world we describe."

What great things are happening at your school? How can we take those positive stories and build on them? Please share your keepers.