As teachers, we are often far more sensitive to the weaknesses that learners possess than we are to their strengths. Once we’ve targeted a weakness, it is common for us to slide into problem-solving mode. This inhibits us from empowering kids to identify what they are good at so that they may use their strengths to contribute to our classrooms and our communities. Have you considered how many young people graduate from our high schools completely alienated from themselves and thoroughly unaware of where their talents lie….simply because what they are good at isn’t valued inside of schools?
Appreciative Inquiry enables change through a process that is different from problem solving. Rather than identifying and attending to weaknesses, those who practice Appreciative Inquiry identify the best of what is working, they collaborate to define what is possible, and they action plan in ways that enable these dreams to become a reality.
Appreciative Inquiry inspires us to see with new eyes and to affirm the best qualities in any situation, system, or human being. It’s about growing what works rather than focusing our energies on “fixing” what doesn’t.
This approach has always been the cornerstone of our work at the WNY Young Writers’ Studio, and when parents and teachers ask me how I inspire resistant writers to begin tapping the keys or creating projects they love, I speak to this model.
It’s Appreciative Inquiry that helps us to learn from one another and grow and thrive as a community.
*Photo taken by Laura Stockman, 2011. Used with permission.