On my ride to the airport, out to my last round of school consultations for 2008, I listened to a radio interview with Parker Palmer on the role of relational trust. Those of you who have participated in my coaching trainings or my professional learning community workshops know that I speak about the role of building trust and relationships in supporting people and creating teams and organizations that serve students. I thought relational trust an appropriate topic for the year’s end and the setting of New Year’s resolutions.
For administrators and coaches, I often discuss the need for trust to be present in evaluation, supervision, mentoring, and coaching relationships. What creates trust in each activity is somewhat different. Therefore, it is critical that teachers know which activity they are taking part in so that they know the behaviors that communicate trust. For example, evaluators build trust by teachers knowing the criteria of evaluation and then having the evaluator work from those criteria consistently. Peer Coaches (who can be my administrator) build trust by staying on the focus that the teacher set in a pre-conference.
We build trust by saying what we are going to do and then doing it.
In Coaching and Collegial PLC’s, trust increases vulnerability which increases learning.
Parker sites the work of Anthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider, two scholars at the University of Chicago, who studied school reform in Chicago through the 1990’s.[Trust in Schools: A Core Resource in Improvement]
Bryk and Schneider identify respect, competence, personal regard, and integrity as elements of trust.
As you return to a New Year in January with a push to building student success in the remainder of the 2008-2009 school year, the questions above may make a great opening for faculty, team, or coaching meetings.
Parker Palmer says listen to the stories that people around you want to share. The more we know about each other the less likely we will distrust one another.
A great place to start the New Year…I’ll be back here January 11, 2009. Have a wonderful holiday!