This article is cross-posted from our fusion community.

Appreciative Inquiry: An Introduction

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Education is a constantly changing field, and it’s important to keep up with new approaches that can help us achieve growth and positive change. That’s where Appreciative Inquiry comes in! This powerful method is all about focusing on strengths and possibilities rather than problems, which can be a game-changer for schools. In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of Appreciative Inquiry and offer some tips for how you can implement it successfully in your school. Subsequent posts will explore the 4 phases of the AI approach. Let’s get started!

Understanding Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry is an organizational development and change approach that emphasizes collaboration and strengths-based solutions. Rather than dwelling on problems, AI seeks to identify and build upon an organization’s existing successes and positive experiences. In doing so, AI provides a strong foundation from which organizations can innovate, grow, and make sustained progress. Its emphasis on practical solutions that work is a refreshing departure from traditional problem-solving methodologies.

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Because, really, who likes sitting in meetings where all you hear is the negative. We will follow up this post with more details about appreciative inquiry – but for now, let’s look at at least three impacts the appreciative inquiry model can have on your organization.

Why is ion talking about Appreciative Inquiry?

We absolutely love Appreciative Inquiry! Whenever we tackle discussions surrounding school improvement, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, Dynamic Decision Making – you name it – AI is always on our minds. Adopting AI internally has been a cornerstone of improving ion’s systems, training, and feature implementation. 

That’s why we strongly advocate for adopting AI in school districts. The possibilities are endless and we encourage using it for curriculum review, strategic goal setting, PBIS planning, intervention review, among others. Don’t hesitate – keep reading to learn more about how AI can elevate your school district!

Building Positive School Culture

Having a positive school culture is crucial to create an environment for effective learning. Appreciative Inquiry offers a process for schools to recognize and acknowledge their individual strengths and accomplishments. By involving all stakeholders which include teachers, students, parents, and administrators, schools can work together in creating an environment where positive outcomes are common, leading to a culture of common goals and unity.

Some ideas for building a positive school culture using appreciative inquiry may include

  • Conduct AI-based interviews or surveys to gather stories of success and positive experiences within the school community. (We’ll post some sample questions in our AI: Discovery blog post – coming soon).
  • Organize workshops or forums to facilitate discussions on the identified strengths and how they contribute to a positive school culture.
  • Develop initiatives based on the identified strengths to further enhance the positive aspects of the school environment.

Enhancing Teacher Professional Development and Community

By leveraging Appreciative Inquiry, schools can drive significant transformation in teacher professional development. This powerful approach fosters a positive and strengths-based disposition that enables teachers to grow professionally with confidence. Using AI, school leaders involve teachers in the decision making process, which fosters trust and ownership, thus creating a conducive environment for nurturing their educators’ talents, leading to better learning outcomes for students. 

Here are a few simple, practical suggestions for using AI to enhance PD:

  • Use AI during PLC or team time to share success stories and best practices in the classroom.
  • Use Appreciative Inquiry in walk-throughs and 1:1 coaching sessions to identify teaching methods that resonate well with students and lead to positive learning outcomes.
  • Foster a culture of collaboration and mentorship by pairing teachers based on their strengths and areas of expertise.

Student Empowerment and Engagement

By using AI to engage with students – especially when soliciting feedback, schools gain access to valuable insights that can motivate and inspire them. This creates a student-centered learning environment that promotes a sense of ownership and responsibility among the student body. With this approach, schools can deliver an education that is purposeful, effective, and motivating to every student.

A few suggestions for using AI for student empowerment and engagement

  • Explore students’ positive experiences and perceptions of learning within the school using the AI method.
  • Use AI to identify extracurricular activities or projects that align with students’ interests and passions.
  • Implement student-led initiatives based on the identified strengths to enhance overall engagement and contribute to a positive school culture.


Appreciative Inquiry is an incredibly powerful tool for organizational development in education. By tapping into the strengths and positive aspects of schools, educators can unleash a revolution of collaboration, improvement and student empowerment. With practical tips and techniques to help you integrate Appreciative Inquiry into your school, you have everything you need to make a lasting impact on your students and the wider community.

Check back over the coming weeks – we will feature the four components of AI in blog posts. Thanks for stopping by!

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