Critical friendship is a form of professional development where two people who have an understanding of each others’ work contexts develop a friendship that spans the workplace and beyond. Within a critical friendship, members are trusted to listen, be vulnerable about the workplace challenges they face, and seek compassionate responses from their critical friend. Critical friendship is a research-based practice (Baskerville & Goldblatt, 2014; Brewer & Wideman-Johnston, 2021) that has been recognized by the Ministry of Education (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2014; Zegarac, 2016) and can be implemented successfully across the field of education. Critical friendship empowers educators’ growth by actively demonstrating the possibilities of what can be achieved together. Our critical friendship programs develop the critical friend within each educator, prepare educators to engage in critical friendships, and support educators in becoming the leader they strive to be.
Educators need to be in positions where they have active opportunities to engage in conscious and reflective practice. Critical friendship offers the platform for members to engage in authentic conversations that are based in experiences that support praxis. Within the process of critical friendship, educators clarify and refine their values in relation to the educational community in which they belong. Critical friendship is a holistic process that supports educators’ efficacy to meet individual needs and the communities in which they serve. Critical friendship offers a means to create meaningful relationships in professional contexts that empower members to fulfill their capacity, problem solve, and continue to strive in their careers.