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.


Shelley said...

I've heard of Appreciative Inquiry before, but this post has got me appreciating it (!) more... thank you for sharing your thoughts here, Liz.

It would be interesting to see folks engaging in this kind of investigation post their post-inquiry reports...

(And, as I'm sure you're aware, this post has now been added to the totally unofficial EduCon 2.3 Archive. Hope that means more folks will see it & respond!)

Lisa Thumann said...

So this is our conversation for Educon2.4. What ideas have you used from a past Educon that have brought improvements in your school? You in?

Let's all share what's working!

Liz Davis said...

Shelley - Thanks again for collecting all of these ideas in one place.

Lisa - Great idea. Let's do it! It will keep our pattern going. Let's also do it at Edubloggercon.

Dorothy Shapland said...

I have used appreciative inquiry in buildings as an approach to professional development. It is remarkable what happens to a team of teachers when they begin from the focus of what is working!
Thanks for sharing!

Christina Henson said...

My son's old golf coach always said, "If you only tell him what not to do, how will he know what to do? We must learn to focus on the positive."

Pushing yourself and others to always be the best they can be is physically and emotionally exhausting. In my own life, I sometimes feel like I am an ant pushing an elephant uphill.

I really like the one comment a blogger posted about stopping and looking in the rear view mirror to see how much progress you have made. So, maybe it's not so bad to feel like you have ran out of gas. It will be a good place to stop and reflect on all of the wonderful things you have accomplished for yourself and others.

If you have not heard anything new lately, maybe it is because you are ahead of the curve. Congratulations, you have arrived at your destination! Please do not forget you are inspiring others, like myself, who are just at the beginning of theirs.

Matt Messinger said...

I like your two examples of essential elements of schooling. Engaging students in thoughtful, face-to-face conversations and helping them find educational questions they get passionate about. As a former teacher, I can say there's no better feeling being an educator than being part of/seeing these things happen in schools!

Reed said...

Hello, I just wanted to make this comment, because I was just commenting about this earlier today in another forum; the only thing I can see that may work in the educational community today, is to combine traditional education methods with newer learning tools, this has to be the way of the future, not just for the teaching community, but for students as well. The newer tools I’m referring to is free online courses. Free online courses covers a variety of different subjects, but the main ones that should be stressed, are the ones specifically targeted at the development of skills related to computers and the Internet. We all know computers are here to stay, and focusing on getting everyone on-board with understanding the basics and the ever-growing technologies, can only help us make our country stronger. Both parents and children, 13 years old and older, should be consulted in continuing to enhance their understanding of basic computer functions,including typing, leading up to more advanced skills by the time they graduate H.S.>esp. if that family has a computer and Internet< that is why I have devoted a large portion of my time lately to getting the word out about the free computer courses that I have found online and used, and highly recommend. I have recently seen on Youtube, a little 14 year old girl, who has made her own website, and made a video to promote it. She was talking about DNS and Search engines, and I was thinking to myself, “she has a head start on all of the kids her age that have an after-school interest in video games or television. She is already thinking like an entrepreneur at age 14! I believe getting students involved in this early start in technical education, will easily go hand-in-hand with the strategies we currently employ. Anyways, check out the list of free and low-cost courses:
This is not a sales gimmick, most of the programs on the list are totally free!!! As a matter of fact, some of the programs allow you to download a certificate of completion after you pass,for free! Please pass this info on. Thank you.
Education is a powerful force, lets use it and technology to defeat lazy minds!

CLaire said...