Trust. We all want it, but do we all give it? It is a crucial issue for teachers and administrators.
Chapter 3 of the book The Collaborative Administrator is titled “Trust: The Secret Ingredient to Successful Shared Leadership.”
Trust is a key to school success.
“What then should a principal do to lay a foundation of trust in a school?”
Further the authors believe the administrator should…
- Operate with honesty and integrity
- Make yourself available
- Demonstrate a caring attitude
- Encourage risk-taking
- Share decision-making
- Value dissent
- Don’t allow accountability to consume teachers
- Make certain that teachers have what they need to teach
- Be prepared to confront ineffective teachers
Trust is the first step on a journey to successful schools, the first step of a TRIP that all schools and Professional Learning Communities must make.
Dov Seidman, author of HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything...in Business (and in Life) came up with the acronym T.R.I.P.
“Trusting in a sense, means giving something away and ceding power to others, an essential step in achieving the outward focus needed in a hyperconnected world. Trust empowers others, but because it is a virtue.”
In the classroom that means taking the first step to give away our perception of control and to trust the students and teachers. As an administrator, you must give power away to others to develop trust in them and their trust in you.
If there is no trust, “We drive slower, act cautiously, shrink our circle of friends and associates, and generally default more conservative impulses. When there is trust in the room, however, all of these tendencies are reversed. We are secure and so can act boldly. We feel free to invent new process…”
We experiment and try new things. Imagine how a student would feel if he or she was secure enough to try new things, stretch themselves, and take a risk without fear of failure. Imagine if your teachers felt they could take risks that might need to new ways of better meeting the needs of students. Teachers who feel trusted will be more likely to innovate and create and share better ideas and practices.
“In a trusting environment, everyone feels emboldened to take more risks. They challenge the system more, they solve problems, and they don’t stay in small boxes afraid to venture into new territory for fear of criticism (by bosses or colleagues). Innovation flows from this creative spirit.”
In a trusting environment teachers would be more open to teaching a new grade or teaching a new class. With trust, a teacher will be more open to sharing new ideas and insight with colleagues. Administrators, if you felt more trust, you would be more willing to experiment with bold programs. Teachers and administrators innovating new ideas without fear of criticism could generate great benefits for students.
Progress is not just limited to higher test scores. Progress extends to personal progress.
“We go on TRIPs because we want to accomplish big things. We go on TRIPs because we want to solve real problems and because we want to create lasting value.”
We go on TRIPs because helping build minds and making a difference is why we got into education in the first place. We go on TRIPs to make an impact.
When the teachers you work with can see that you are being open and transparent with your ideas, lessons, plans, etc. then they develop trust in you. For a department or grade level to be successful, a condition of transparency must exist. If others think you are hiding something, then they are not going to share what they know. We have all seen or know teachers who are hoarders of ideas. We have all seen and know teachers who are territorial about ideas, or committees, or duties, etc. When these teachers are not transparent, then the others they work begin to feel they need to close up and keep their ideas or territories. We become little islands or silos, each trying to keep their ideas to themselves in hope that they will be perceived as a, “great teacher.” Meanwhile all the kids at the school suffer from this lack of transparency. We must open up and share our best practices and ideas. All of the students deserve the best, not just the ones in my class.
R The R stands for Reputation
Do you know what your reputation is? It may not be what you think. Perception is reality, as they say, so your reputation is largely going to be determined by the perception of those you teach and work with. It may not be what you intended it to be, but it is what others think it is.
I The I stands for Instinct
When there is trust, this can unleash you instinct. “When you are in a trust-filled situation, these synapses are strong. The various centers of your brain communicate seamlessly and rapidly, and you can then make split-second decisions that often pay off.”
Wouldn’t it be easier if you worked and taught in a situation that allowed you to make quick decision without second-guessing yourself due to lack of trust in your students, your co-workers, or your principal. To work in an environment of trust will allow you to make decision in the best interest of the students each and every time without going through all the machinations that those who work where there is no trust will likely go through.
However, I took the liberty of adding another meaning to the I. I The I can also stand for Individual.
We in education are being told exactly what to teach, when to teach, and how to teach. There must be room for the individual talents and ideas of each teacher or administrator. In an environment of trust, each individual teacher or administrator can offer his or her unique ideas and viewpoints.
Prosperity can mean performance. Prosperity can be translated to mean results. Trust brings results. Results from the teachers and administrators, which, in the end, translates to results from the students and the school. Performance increases steadily in the direction of great results.
Trust is key. We need to have trust. I get so tired of people who want to just talk about what has to be done without ever spending to reflect on the HOW it will be done. If we don’t figure out the HOWs then the “whats” won’t be accomplished. Is it worth our time as teachers and administrators to take some time to get our HOWs right?
So how do we get a TRIP going? You figure out where you are, where you want to go, and most importantly, you listen to each other. Our students are counting on us to get going on this TRIP.