Among Friends: Norms for Inquiry and Analysis

It isn’t easy to be both critical and friendly while working collaboratively to make schools better. The Bay Area Coalition of Essential Schools has developed these norms to help its members as they jointly inquire about and analyze their work:

  • Describe only what you see. Do not try to describe what you don’t see; express what you don’t see in the form of questions.
  • Resist the urge to work on “solutions” until you are comfortable with what the data says and doesn’t say.
  • Surface the perspectives and experiences you bring to the analysis. Effective teams use these as strengths.
  • Seek to understand differences of perception before trying to resolve them. Early consensus can inhibit depth and breadth of analysis. Hear from everybody.
  • Ask questions when you don’t understand. Find the answers together.
  • Surface assumptions and use the data to challenge them. Look actively for both challenges and supports to what you believe is true.