Amidst all the hand wringing and despondency that characterised 2016 it can be tough to find messages of hope, so I was particularly grateful for this offering from Avaaz, the online campaign portal. It reminds us that as we become increasingly critical of the world around us we can miss the march of human progress that continues, sometimes remarkably, in spite of the challenges that threaten it.
The IPPR think tank told us this week that Brexit, demographics and technological change would create a storm of disruption to politics, economics, power structures and even to the way we relate to one another. It reported that two-thirds of current jobs – 15 million – were at risk from “exponential” improvements in new technologies such as artificial intelligence systems.
So as we start this new calendar year the challenge we face as educators is how we harness positivity and hope in order to hasten the positive change in the world.
At The Studio we take a creative approach – as one of our students recently posted: ‘The earth without art is just eh!’ One way we are doing this is by integrating ‘Appreciative Inquiry (AI)’ into our routines. AI is a method of personal and organisational change that increases effectiveness by building on ‘the best of what is’ in an organisation. This approach has developed a strong research base and is used in schools around the world.
We train our staff to have appreciative coaching conversations with students; our middle leaders have appreciative improvement conversations with their teams and we have embedded our ‘How to Be More Awesome’ student planner into our form/SCRUM time with students (we also have Studio ‘shoutouts’ at briefing where we appreciating one another – though Appreciative Inquiry is about more than saying thank you!).
We have co-created our Awesome planner with our partner, Appreciating People. It follows the success of the Awesome Journal we created last year. It helps students organise themselves, has home school contact logs and weekly exercises that are skilfully designed to creative a positive mindset and build resilience.
Imagination is where change begins. Our How to be More Awesome Planner answers an important need: it encourages our students to develop the belief that anything is possible; and then helps them to plan for positive change.
For more information about using the Awesome Journal and Planner in your school email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org