Monday, May 6, 2013

The Importance of Trust

Before diving into any educational change initiative, a solid foundation must be in place. When thinking about building resilient schools, this foundation is no less essential, especially with regard to trust.

Trust in this sense involves the relationships of all educational stakeholders. More than relationships between students and teachers alone, the relations between teachers with teachers, teachers with principals, and school personnel with the community are also important considerations. 

When high relational trust exists, people believe that everyone is competent in their roles.  For example, students believe they have effective teachers who are under the leadership of effective principals. Furthermore, within every relationship, people respect each other and rely on the involvement of every person. Relational trust is based on what people believe and on what they observe. So, not only do they believe in the competence of each other, but they also validate this belief by what they see on a regular basis.

Research on school change has shown that successful reform is linked to the level of trust in schools. For schools with low levels of trust, reform efforts have a one in seven chance of increasing student learning. With high levels of trust, schools have a 50/50 chance to see increases in learning.

We live during times that require better ways of coping and higher levels of resilience. Before we start developing plans to meet these needs, we must first build and nurture trust for all those who are involved in these efforts.
Trust...is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. ~Barbara Smith