Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lessons From the CADRE Symposium - Part II #appreciative inquiry

This is the second post pertaining to lessons learned at the CADRE Symposium in Eugene, Oregon in October. As always the outstanding conference was a huge success.

It is amazing just how much information was available at this conference. Although I can hardly do it justice here, I wanted to take the time to do a few posts relating some of the educational materials that resonated with me. 

The first keynote speakers, Pru Sullivan and Miriam Novotny, addressed the topic of appreciative inquiry. The are very entertaining and dynamic speakers. I also attended their separate concurrent session.

Appreciative inquiry was a new concept for me. It involves a positive, appreciating component- valuing and appreciating strengths, as well as recognizing that our questions are vitally important (with our questions we make the world.) They spoke about the art of the question and about "preframing" or a positive reframe. They provided guidance on how to craft questions. (This portion of their presentations was very useful for mediators as well as others.)

But what really struck a chord with me was their idea that appreciative inquiry could be applied to IEP team meetings. They have experimented successfully with this concept. One key point here: they suggested that we focus on a child's strengths. One problem is that we tend to obsess about a child's "needs" which we equivocate with weaknesses or deficits.  A strength based approach might yield a better outcome of children with disabilities.

Now I can hear you saying - but the law...the law... And to be clear I am not advocating a radical departure from the way things are done. You still need present levels and everything else the regs say has to be in an IEP.

The point is, however, that we should maybe spend some more of our IEP team time on the child's strengths. Maybe a bit more  than the one sentence on the form about strengths.  What do you think?

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