Mark S. Dickerson
Azusa Pacific Univeristy
This article reviews the benefits of a collaborative school culture, including 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. The second portion of the article reports on the impact that an appreciative inquiry process had on building a collaborative culture in 22 schools located in British Columbia, Canada and reflects on its strengths and limitations.