Reculturing Schools for Greater Impact: Using Appreciative Inquiry as a Non-Coercive Change Process

Mark S. Dickerson, Roxanne Helm-Stevens


The benefits of a collaborative school culture include reduced teacher isolation, social and emotional support,
opportunities for professional development and learning, and closer ties with significant stakeholders, such as
families and community organizations. While collaborative cultures may be powerful, they also may be either
misguided or superficial. Further, cultural change is difficult and norms such as teacher isolation and autonomy
are well entrenched.
These concerns point to the need for a change process that has a positive focus, is essentially self-organizing,
encourages deep reflection, and avoids the pitfalls of manipulation by school administrators. This analysis points
to consideration of appreciative inquiry, a strengths-based process that builds on ‘the best of what is’ in an
organization. This paper presents research on the impact an appreciative inquiry process had on building a
collaborative culture in 22 schools located in British Columbia, Canada.

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