Appreciative Inquiry | Building on our best of teaching experiences

Indeed, there are bad days in our teaching experience, but, we also have several wow-moments in our teaching. A day to reckon with and a day to remember forever, for many things we did in creating such a wonderful experience in the classroom. Appreciative inquiry allows focusing on positive and happy experiences towards building better teaching plans and of course our future as an effective teacher

My colleague asked me a very interesting question: How will I know that I have conducted a good and effective class for students? Can anyone answer this question? I think no one can and no one should answer this question, except the teacher herself. However, even at the cost of looking like a fool, I tried answering her. I said, “you have to look at your students to know this, it will be written all over their faces!” Bizarre as it may sound, but when we engage students in the class with all its entirety, it shows up not only on their faces, but also in their body language, in their questions and inquiry, and in their enthusiasm. I have also seen teachers who are physically followed by students in the corridor after the class gets over and the teacher is leaving the classroom. They have several things to ask and clarify for. These students would also meet the teacher after the class in their cabin. Something must have gone very right in the class which must have made students so much inquisitive about. Such a wow-moment occurs in the life of all teachers. Can we recall and build on all such experiences for planning our teaching? The answer is a big Yes!  

As a teacher when we start conducting classroom sessions, we quickly come to understand what is going well and what is not going well; what is being received well by the students and what is not received so well. This is written all over the faces of students. A well-engaged session is full of inquisitive questions, twinkling eyes, rush of energy, and positivity. We come across this experience in class, which can be recalled and modelled for future planning. While preparing for a change, we may like to ask the question—how to conduct an engaging class? This question can certainly take us in many directions. Some of it may be useful and futuristic. However, instead if we ask the question—what constituted one good experience when my students were enthusiastically engaged? Easy to recall, and indeed a joy to recall. Harping on this experience can pave a definite way forward. Further, the ownership of the solution is well defined.

The first one is a business-as-usual model of asking question for initiating a change, while the second one is an example of appreciative inquiry. The difference lies in the problem solving mind-set. While the first one is based on finding gaps and minimizing the deficit, the second one aims at maximizing on what is already working well. It is a process to build on positive and happy experiences.

Appreciative inquiry is a good source of moving forward not only for institutions of higher learning, but more emphatically for charting out individual progress. It is applicable equally to students and faculty. One must take out the notebook and write down things one is good at, more so what has worked well so far, and work towards strengthening positive aspects. Success, most often, depends on things which we execute and demonstrate well, rather than things which cannot do well.

Appreciative inquiry finds solutions rather than reiterating problems. This process can help evolving the ‘centre of excellence’ in true sense of the term. It makes an institution work on proactive propositions, challenges business-as-usual, and enables individuals to work on real propositions.

Author: Dr Prabhat Pankaj

Dr. Prabhat Pankaj is a postgraduate in Economics and a Ph.D. in applied economics. He is a teacher by choice and started his career 30 years ago in 1991 from Arunachal University. He has been teaching Economics at postgraduate and undergraduate levels for about 30 years, in Universities and B-Schools in India and abroad, including 7 years in Bhutan. Dr. Pankaj has also obtained his Executive Education in "Management and Leadership in Higher Education" at Harvard University, Boston, USA. Furthermore, He has written for the Times of India and other popular publications. Currently, he is serving as the Director of Jaipuria Institute of Management, Jaipur.

4 thoughts

  1. Nice and intriguing article sir. Gave me a few pointers to look at while conducting a class. Would like to know more about the appreciative enquiry process in teaching learning from you.
    Best regards – Arindam

    Liked by 1 person

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