An Appreciative inquiry into the strengths and complexity of the Cedar Hill Middle School learning community

Date

2012-01-03

Authors

Maxwell, Aaron

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Abstract

The Greater Victoria School District has undergone a reconfiguration to include middle schools in their public education system. This reconfiguration has students from grades six to eight learning in a new setting. Cedar Hill Middle school is an example of one of the middle schools that is now in its eighth year of existence. The school is the centre of the learning community that is made up of students, staff and parents. As part of an ongoing review and reflection, this research used an Appreciative Inquiry methodology to try to identify the strengths found within the learning community. Through a dialogic interview process, a sample of staff, parents and most importantly students were interviewed to collect the best experiences that they had experienced as a part of the learning community. The data was open coded to identify best experiences, categorize them, and then identify the themes or relationships between the experiences of the different members of the learning community. These relationships were then used to create a set of powerful propositions that can be used to potentially guide the growth of the Cedar Hill learning community. Through this process two main themes emerged. The first was the importance of connections within the system and the second was the need for diversity within the system. This supported the assumption that the learning community was indeed a complex system and reinforced the idea that Appreciative Inquiry is a tool that can be used to support and develop complex systems.

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Keywords

Complexity, Appreciative Inquiry, Middle School, Learning communities

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