Forward to Giles & Bramley (2022)

A case study of a school’s application of Appreciative Inquiry, SOAR, and Strengths-Based practices as seen in a range of educational projects


There is no doubt that we live in a world experiencing unprecedented changes. It is not surprising that our conversation can have a sense of hopelessness. Easy solutions appear to be few and far between. What is needed in schools is a new discourse that is hope-full, appreciative, strengths-based and relational.

This book reports on an innovative ‘life-centric’ design for the professional development of senior leaders within a primary (elementary) school in New Zealand. The design involved an Appreciative Inquiry approach, a SOAR strategy, and strengths- based outcomes. The chapters are organised around leaders’ self-selected, innovative and appreciative inquiries which included an external mentor and writing retreats. Each chapter provides a teacher’s narrative on their inquiry, decision making, application of the life-centric design, and the development of emergent and enduring understandings.

The AI SOAR strategy has been applied to school-wide matters such as the development of a new bicultural school vision statement; ‘Growing creative learners from within.’ The Māori translation is ‘Kia puāwai te ngākau.’ This translation evokes an image of learners harnessing that which is within their innermost being and letting that flourish.

This book strongly advocates for the greater application of Appreciative Inquiry, SOAR and strengths-based aspirations in schools.

A new publication by Giles & Bramley (2002)

“A case study of a school’s application of Appreciative Inquiry, SOAR, and Strengths-Based practices as seen in a range of educational projects”

A thought

“Only dead salmon go with the flow”

Leaders in education, relational leaders, aren’t satisfied with the status quo. They point to, and enact, a way forward.

Managers on the other hand, aspire to results, with little priority for life centric relationships.



Hi K, Good to hear from you.

As always, I appreciate and value your thoughts. I have re-read my comments and realise that I have not been very clear re the managerial role beneath my comments.

I am not referring to Principals, nor emergent leaders, aspirational leaders, and the like in education, albeit this is not clear in what I wrote.

My comments re managers, relates to ‘business’ managers in some schools whose position and role it is to enact organisational priorities. These business managers are not usually employed for their educational experience, wisdom nor their leadership nous. These managers are tasked towards efficiency and effectiveness.

In completing their tasks, business managers, in the context of education, there can be less of a priority for relational endeavour in reaching their goals.

Some thoughts


I’ve been wondering about our everyday relationships … It feels to me that we are spending greater amounts of time ‘checking’ each other, albeit checking for the negative signs of COVID.  
Our ‘checking’ challenges the ‘taken for granted’ nature of relationships that exist between us. This slow creep of the changing nature of relationships has also led to heightened and hyped anxieties fuelled by uncertainty.

In a similar way, what has been the impact of mask wearing on our relational experiences? Given that the face mask invariably covers half the face, have we under estimated the ‘powerful’ influence of the ‘whole’ face in relating?

Just pondering & ‘checking out’


A fresh dawn …

And at the end of the day, when the sun is setting, tomorrow’s horizons wait, out of sight, in anticipation.Waiting for the new-ness of the hither to unseen.

Boldly then we must take up our trough and spear, and begin to sense our way among the distractions of the day.

Our hopes for ‘tomorrow’ remain resolute,Our hopes for ‘today’ invigorate our ‘now’, and our hopes from ‘yesterday’ confirm our destiny.


(C) D. Giles 27 Dec 2021

En-courage-ing teachers …

Who a teacher is, as a person and as a teacher, are interrelated, intertwined.

“The personal can never be divorced from the professional. We teach who we are” (Palmer, 2007, p. xi).

Nias (1989) adds that “teachers as people cannot be separated from their craft” (p. 203).

Lemons (and organisational culture)

As you go about your daily life, you will encounter many lemons. Sour expressions, sour attitudes, sour auras!

The goodthing is that if you don’t want to be a lemon, you don’t have to be!

Just don’t let those lemons rub themselves all over you!

Let lemons be lemons!

C. JoyBell (Goodreads, n.d.)

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