In what should come as a surprise to absolutely no one who knows me at all, I'm a little bit "Type A." This is to say that I have always set irrationally high standards for myself and when I don't always meet those I tend to be just a wee bit unforgiving (see: K.C. in 1st grade, apologizing in writing to my parents for earning a "check mark" and not the superlative "plus" in Handwriting. Pretty sure I wrote something to the effect of "I will practice my letters in my room until they are perfect"). The teacher later gave me a book called Nobody is Perfick which I assume was an attempt to get me to breathe now and then. Clearly I felt compelled to correct the spelling on the cover. I was a weird kid.
Fast-forward to 2013. I'm taking this online course through Powerful Learning Practice called Connected Coaching and I'm excited about applying what I learn to the burgeoning Facing History online community, as well as to my work with our educators who don't live or work by any of our regional offices. Last week we looked at a few different educational models and theories around coaching and one in particular really resonated with me. It's called Appreciative Inquiry. In this very brief overview of AI you'll see a 5-D model that highlights the 5 phases of Appreciative Inquiry, in which the goal is to not only identify the positive core of whatever you are investigating, but to leverage it in creating your most desired outcome. Intrigued, I read more. In this article from the National Career Development Association (NCDA) the Appreciative Inquiry model is explicated more deeply. On pp. 7 the author notes that "in many ways, the 'Building on your Strengths' approach is an individual’s articulated narrative relative to personal strengths, passions, and successes. It is about looking at those times when things are going well, developing an image of what one wants, learning from others how they have been successful, and creating an image that can be continually regenerated and that is then used as a guide for one to plan the future."
I like this passage for two reasons; first, I think it articulates succinctly the definition of the appreciative strength-based approach, and second, because I love the idea of forever being able to "regenerate" that same success over and over in one's life. It's a powerful idea, one that I can see myself looking toward as a model in both my work as an online facilitator/blog moderator/online community creator and in my life away from work. Instead of dwelling on what hasn't worked, why not focus on what has worked for you and your colleagues and use those lessons to inform your future endeavors? As we try out new and exciting tools and activities in our DMIN work we'll invariably run into some that are home runs and others that are duds. I'm energized by the idea of using the appreciative inquiry model and look forward to sharing it with teachers and colleagues. Have you used AI before? In what ways? How did it go? What were its strengths and challenges?