Using the Appreciative Inquiry Model

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

A follow-up from the Leadership Inquiry Cadre


Everyone who participated agrees that the inaugural Leadership Inquiry Cadre on Appreciative Inquiry was a game changer: Informative, innovative and collaborative--our favorite adjectives!


Appreciative Inquiry engages individuals, teams, or the entire organization in creating change by asking participants to focus on their strengths and positive experiences while strategizing solutions to problems of practice. During the Core Collaborative’s Appreciative Inquiry Leadership Cadre, our staff asked participants to agree to treat the workshop as a brave space and a safe space to share experiences.



The Appreciative Inquiry (AI) model is centered on asking questions, which participants of the Cadre liked when formatted as a triad interview protocol. Within breakout rooms, three participants were asked to take turns in the role of interviewer, interviewee, and note taker. This opportunity to engage with colleagues in extended breakout room discussions was a huge success. The power of starting with a positive mindset by sharing peak experiences resonated most with them as they moved through the process of a quick-fire inquiry.


With so much in the world right now focusing on the negative, many AI cadre participants were excited and invigorated by the opportunity to focus on their strengths and positive experiences. They felt camaraderie, support, and great energy from hearing and sharing each others’ stories. Even the upbeat music between sessions was appreciated for getting participants, who ranged from school teachers and principals to PTA and BOE members, as well as Core Collaborative staff, authors, and consultants, smiling, dancing, and getting the creative thinking juices flowing.


Appreciative inquiry inherently brings up feelings of joy! As one participant observed, it is “possible to create open, supportive, fun, positive learning environments online.” Another participant appreciated the “Brave Space Agreement” and its power “to move beyond safe space into brave space.”


Some folks wondered how often Appreciative Inquiry should be used with a team, and how to develop others’ ability to facilitate this model. Our Core Collaborative consultants often refer to David Cooperrider’s work when they are working with education leaders to construct the AI model within their systems. This model is excellent for coaching conversations because it puts the participants on a level playing field, creates a space to develop a shared focus, and builds on strengths to lead to new levels of success.


Our consultants can help your team work with staff who are reluctant to share. It might look like creating a brave space agreement or simply practicing the protocol which will make it easier over time. Every group is different and comes to a different conclusion about how best to incorporate these and other practices that ultimately arrive at the same goal - collaboration.


For our next cadre, Design a Balanced Assessment Framework, we’ll use appreciative inquiry to guide breakout room discussions. We heard from several participants that they’d like even more time in breakout rooms for invaluable discussion with fellow educators. Our team will ensure that there is as much time as possible for colleagues to converse. We will balance that need with opportunities to deepen understanding of each topic with a panel of expert practitioners and to share as a larger group. Another suggestion was to provide a copy of the slide deck and we are happy to share a PDF of the slides with anyone who requests them.


 

The Core Collaborative Leadership Inquiry Cadres happen the first Friday of every month. Join us for future cadres!





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