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The Story of the Positive Change Corps

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Title: The Story of the Positive Change Corps


1
The Story of the Positive Change Corps
Conversation on the Future of Education
A Leap of Faith Rediscovering the Wonder-full
World of Education
November 6-7, 2003   Weatherhead School of
Management Case Western Reserve University
(CASE) Cleveland, Ohio U.S.A.
2
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3
A Note From Positive Change Corps Executive
Director
  • Out of the ashes of the 9-11 disaster in the
    U.S.A, a group called the Positive Change Corps
    (PCC) was created from the question, What if
    there were a group of committed change agents,
    ready to contribute their knowledge of
    strength-based innovation and change to school
    systems and youth programs around the world?
    PCC worked with CASE Weatherhead School of
    Management and many others to convene a global
    Appreciative Inquiry (AI) called A Leap of
    Faith Rediscovering the Wonder-full World of
    Education.
  • What brought over 120 of us together was the
    irresistible invitation to identify whats
    working within our schools and education systems
    and to discover, dream, and design the best kind
    of schools and youth programs. We wanted to
    locate, explore, and learn from those seeds of
    innovation and excellence that are pointing the
    way to a transformational approach to education
    -- education for a global village where schools
    and youth are recognized agents of world and
    community benefit.
  • Marjorie Schiller, Ph.D
  • Margeschiller_at_yahoo.com

4
Introduction
  • This is a story about a diverse group of people
    interested and involved with youth and the
    educational community. Students, teachers,
    administrators, parents, and consultants from
    across the United States and England, Canada,
    Brazil, and Australia came together at CASE
    Weatherhead School of Management to share, dream,
    and dialogue about whats best, whats possible,
    and whats next for education and youth across
    the globe.
  • The following drawings capture the spirit and
    energy of the two days participants spent
    together discovering the positive core of
    education and our youth, dreaming of the most
    preferred future, designing the best systems,
    structures, and programs, and extending and
    elevating this conversation to help move
    education and youth toward a wonder-full destiny.

5
Day 1
  • After a welcome from Dr. Charleyse Pratt,
    Executive Director of Appreciative Leadership in
    Education Systems Change (ALESC) and co-convener
    of the conversation, our first speaker was Dr.
    Mohsen Anvari, the Dean of CASE Weatherhead
    School of Management. He noted that business
    schools dont normally enter into the education
    equation, but that his universitys belief is
    that the future of business is in becoming an
    agent of world benefit. He welcomed us in that
    spirit.
  • Next, the Deputy Chief of the Cleveland Municipal
    School District, Rasool Jackson, welcomed us on
    behalf of Dr. Barbara Bennett, Superintendent of
    Cleveland Public Schools.
  • Dr. Marge Schiller, Executive Director of the PCC
    and conversation co-convener, spoke about how so
    much of what we read about education is
    problem-focused. Our job here was to lift the
    positive core of education and youth to the
    light. She encouraged us to live in the
    questions, identify new possibilities for using
    strength-based methods for change, and make new
    connections with each other.

6
Discovery
  • In the spirit of learning by doing, the framework
    of our two days together was the 4-D process of
    Appreciative Inquiry Discovery, Dream, Design,
    and Destiny. Dr. Jackie Stavros, Professor at
    Lawrence Technological University and Dawn Dole,
    Executive Director, TAOS Institute, launched the
    collective conversation by pairing up the group
    to interview one another. The inquiry began with
    conversations about peak moments in our
    experiences of education and youth and our hopes
    for the future.
  • When had we found the most joy in learning?
  • When had we been part of a change effort that
    made a difference?
  • What did we most value about our roles in working
    with schools and youth?
  • And what were our wishes for how education could
    be even better in the future?

7
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8
Mapping the Positive Core
  • After the interviews, we gathered in small groups
    to share our stories and meet each other.
    Through our stories we created maps of the
    positive core of education. What is present in
    peak moments when we are most alive and effective
    as learners?
  • A community can help ignite and sustain the spark
  • Education that works for all to create a world
    that works for all
  • Respect
  • Students active in their own change
  • Learning as lifelong and community-wide
  • Relationships
  • The power of one
  • Trust
  • Safety
  • Diversity Valued
  • Diana Arsenian, a graphic recorder from Boston,
    Massachusetts, captured the conversation
    highlights and was assisted by Christopher Lee, a
    Canton, Ohio, high school student trained in
    graphic recording.

9

10
Dream The Heathside School Story
  • A team of people from the Heathside School in
    England shared how they used Appreciative Inquiry
    with 1350 students and staff to strengthen their
    school. The school had doubled in size and they
    needed to rethink many things.
  • Their stories and a video of their journey,
    filmed by their own students, inspired us all to
    do our own imagining of a possible future for
    global education.
  • Id forgotten how much I wanted to be here.
  • The idea of having 300 students with no
    structure it was quite frightening!
  • When we started I thought this was about money.
    But I realize now its about whats in our heads
    and hearts.

11
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12
Our Dreams
  • In the afternoon of Day 1, we returned to our
    small groups and talked about our dreams for the
    future of education and our youth. What would
    things look like by the year 2013 if the positive
    core of education and youth were present?
  • Each group prepared a short creative expression
    of the dream they had developed. Each had
    important and inspiring ideas about whats
    possible.
  • What is inside of you that wants to come out?
  • Stepping to your own beat, walking in cultural
    harmony
  • From the school of hard knocks to soft schools
    out of the box.
  • The day ended with the inspirational Cleveland
    Boy Choir singing songs that began to make our
    dreams feel real.

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14
Design at Shaw High School
  • On the morning of Day 2, Dr. Charleyse Pratt and
    a group of students from Shaw High School in
    Cleveland illustrated how Appreciative Inquiry
    (AI) helped their school invent a program called
    Global Leadership and Excellence in Academics,
    Mathematics and Science (GLEAMS).
  • The GLEAMS program created a new vision at Shaw
    to empower, enlighten and enrich for excellence
    in education. AI was used to help prepare a
    proposal for a Knowledge Works grant from General
    Electric. The program has been extraordinarily
    successful in helping scholars pass their state
    proficiency exams, go on to bigger and better
    dreams and move deeper into their learnings.
  • Her core message included a key lesson learned
    about the Design phase of Appreciative Inquiry.
    In Design, its important to be authentic about
    creating our vision of the future and the steps
    to get there. This is where we can trip over
    those things we want to hang on to. Remember
    that its the things that trip me, not the
    people.

15
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16
Our Design Step
  • The small groups were invited to come up with
    possibility statements (PS). These statements
    describe in words, the future we imagined in
    pictures, dance, and music in the Dream phase.
    Here is a sampling
  • PS1 The learning process shimmers and vibrates
    with adventure, fun and excitement and
  • generates energy, exploration, and
    risk taking. There is a chain of teachers and
  • learners sharing their wealth of
    resources.   Relationships are fostered and
  • celebrated as the center of learning.
    Conversation of self-respect and mutual
  • respect with meaningful dialog are
    actively encouraged amongst all. We are having
  • fun!
  • PS2 Our school has no walls the community is
    a resource for the school and the school
  • is a resource for the community.
  • q  We are open 24/7 as a community center.
  • q  We mine the resources of the community to
    provide the best learning experiences for
  • each individual student.
  • q Teachers are released one day per month to
    design cross-curricular activities, make
  • community contacts, and build
    relationships.
  • q School dollars are allocated to encourage the
    use of community resources and our
  • school actively pursues alternative funding
    sources.
  • q  Students are involved in planning, learning,
    and teaching.

17
Several More Possibilities
  • PS3 Our learning spaces are centers in
    communities that draw individuals and families
  • into collaborative relationships. In
    these centers you see scholars and lead learners
  • of all ages engaging in lively
    learning and spontaneous and creative
    interactions.
  • Laughter, fun and joy are evident in
    faces and voices of everyone in the learning
  • community. As a result everyone knows
    where they are, where they want to go, and
  • what they need to get there.
  • PS4 Our schools are characterized by courage.
    Every single person in the community is
  • 100 at choice and holds themselves
    fully accountable for their choices. They speak
  • from their hearts unafraid to take
    chances and to speak their truths respectfully.
  • Underpinning it all is self-awareness
    and heart.

18
Several More Possibilities
  • PS 5 The learning process is composed of the
    flow of energy exchange between and
  • among individuals, groups, and
    systems, embracing the whole person/whole system
  • perspective.
  • Patterns of ENERGY MOVEMENT that promote the
    learning process as Positive and Affirmative
  • q       Freedom and autonomy
  • q       World as a classroom
  • q       Learning is directed by individual,
    groups systems (collaborative)
  • q       Persistence and determination
  • q       Supports a culture that accepts mistakes
  • q       Redesign our perception of time usage
  • q       Promotes an experience of renewal
  • q       Views crisis as opportunity

19
Several More Possibilities
  • PS6 As our environment continues to be resource
    rich, physically and
  • emotionally, it fosters this type of
    setting
  • q       Positive atmosphere where everyone has a
    sense of belonging
  • q       Learning is safe, respectful, and
    encouraged
  • q       Learning facilities built in places
    surrounded by less distractions peaceful
  • q       Mutual trust and respect
  • q       Diversity is accepted and celebrated
  • q       All students are scholars who want to
    go deeper
  • q       Teachers adjust to students needs,
    beliefs, values and how they need to
  • be taught
  • q       Schools are known as places where
    scholars want to go and are welcomed
  • A complete list of the possibility statements are
    available on the AI commons
  • http//ai.cwru.edu/practice/organizationDetail.cfm
    ?coid4210sector25

20
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21
Destiny
  • We realized that taking this step is very
    challenging. We shared stories and reflections
    on how possibility statements can be used back in
    our homes, schools and programs to enrich our
    individual work.
  • Sometimes people just want to create plans for
    OTHERS to do, not themselves!
  • This reminded me of the importance of owning and
    remembering the vision.
  • The experience of dissonance is important. It
    tells us something is not clicking so we need to
    work on it.
  • Its all about bringing all the stakeholder
    voices in and drawing on strengths, wherever they
    emerge.

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23
Transforming the Destiny
  • Dr. David Cooperrider, Professor at CASE
    Weatherhead School of Management and lead learner
    in Appreciative Inquiry, shared his thoughts
    about how as humans we thrive under conditions of
    love, in a setting where people take the time to
    know us at a deep level. In living systems, the
    fundamental dynamic is conservation. As humans,
    we can act knowing whether what we do conserves
    or destroys the loving biosphere around us.
  • In Destiny we talk about co-construction of an
    evolving future. Illuminating the positive core
    of the past, present, and future creates a
    trajectory and opens up new choices.
  • We then met in small specific interest groups to
    develop practical steps we could take to move
    projects forward, using what we had learned and
    the connections we made at this Leap of Faith
    conversation.

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25
Sustaining Our Destiny
  • Appreciative Inquiry teaches us that we discover
    the seeds of success in the past. Then the sun
    shines on the seeds as we Dream together. We
    create possibility statements about how we want
    our aspirations to look once theyre grown. The
    Destiny phase is how we bring intent into the
    world.
  • The specific interest groups came together to
    develop next steps and commitments to transform
    school and youth programs cultures, systems and
    processes by amplifying strengths and aligning
    actions with missions, visions, and values.
  • To read more information about the Leap of Faith
    Conversation, The Positive Change Corps and other
    school youth AI initiatives visit the AI
    Commons at
  • http//appreciativeinquiry.cwru.edu/
  • and the PCC List Serve at
  • http//mailman.business.utah.edu8080/mailman/list
    info/pcc-l

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27
New Beginnings
  • Alyse Smith Cooper, a minister, story teller, and
    staff member of the Black Alliance for Health
    Care, wove our closing story, giving us time to
    reflect and deepen our experience of the
    collective conversation.
  • Having gathered your attention, the story must
    come forth.
  • You are right on the edge of changes you cant
    even imagine.
  • Conversations lead to relationships. You reach
    out. You cant stay inside yourself.
  • To take that leap of faith, you cant take excess
    baggage with you. You have to be light.
  • People were invited to address the group in
    parting. We delighted in the sense of connection
    and healing that we all experienced over the two
    days together. One of the student participants
    had the last word
  • I didnt know so many adults cared about us.

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29
Heartfelt Thank YouTo all of those who worked on
bringing this conversation to life through this
special gathering and booklet, we thank you for
your time, words, and images
Everyone who participated in Leap of Faith The Canton Public Schools The Utah Teachers Association Everyone who has contributed time, talent and tithe to the Positive Change Corps Foundation Diana Arsenian Dr. David Cooperrider Dawn Dole Leslie Evers Dr. Gina Hinrichs Christopher Lee Joyce Lemke Debbie Morris Dr. Charleyse Pratt Dr. Marge Schiller Jane Seiling Alyse Smith Cooper Dr. Jackie Stavros Kathy Hazelton Sara Mierke Cleveland Boy Choir Cleveland Public Schools McDonalds Corporation The Positive Change Corps Weatherhead School of Management, CASE
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