Sean Robinson recently posted on trust in his classroom. He spoke to a survey he gave his students at the end of last year that asked simple questions about trust:
Do you feel that your teacher trusts you? 85% said yes
Do you trust that your teacher wants the best for you? 89% said yes
Do you trust that school will help you achieve your goals? 37% said yes
The most interesting (although the whole post is interesting) is the disconnect in the student responses between the trust in the classroom and the school as a whole. I wondered if this was indicative of a cultural issue. School culture is very important to me and I strive to develop, in my own way, a stronger school culture, whether through my own interactions with students and staff or supporting staff and students in creating positive cultures. However, the disconnect between the classroom and the school is troubling.
I don’t see this changing quickly. It is a social issue. The same can be seen in municipal, district and provincial politics. People trust the people in their lives that they interact with on a daily basis, but have mistrust or misconceived i
deas about those that are not directly connected to them. Look at surveys on teachers. Many show that although parents trust their own child’s teacher, they do not trust the whole profession. They see their classes as wonderful places of learning, but see the entire institution as ‘broken’.
Relational trust that needs to be developed in a school and classroom is pivotal to the learning success of all in the building. I found this post on the ASCD Whole Child site to be a great primer to developing that trust.
One example of developing trust was a recent event at our school. Every year, students, staff and the public don pink shirts to ‘stand up to bullying’, ‘prevent bullying’, and, for our district, ‘Love is Louder than Bullying’. These are great events to create awareness, at least for one day, on issues of developing positive relationships that create the atmosphere (or climate/culture) in a school that enhances the learning experience. This year, a small group of teachers (all new to the school) and their newly minted club, Where Everyone Belongs (WEB), spent the evening before sticky noting (not a term, I know, but sums it up well) the entire school with positive messages. This simple act changed the feel of the day and many students who felt ‘left out’, ‘disenfranchised’ felt the care and belonging that we all need.
It’s the small things that help create that trust between all members of our school community. I am looking forward to helping our own school culture develop to a place Where Everyone Belongs!