Saturday, 7 September 2013

Developing Trust

Still working on catching up - George asked us to write on this topic last week:  The importance of trust

  1. How do you work to build trust starting in a new place?
  2. When you lose trust, what do you do to try to regain what you do?
  3. In a world with social media so evident, how do you use that technology to create a transparent culture within your community?
This is a great topic - like all the others. Again, this is something I think about all the time. Today, just by chance I was listening to a discussion on who the captains will be on a number of teams this year. Actually, it was really interesting. The commentators talked a lot about how the captain's role has to be earned. Captains in hockey are asked to do a great deal, essentially they are the public face of their team. Interestingly, being the most skilled player was not a major factor according to the commentators. To me, it had more to do with trust. Would the players follow you, listen to you, work hard for you. I think it is the same in education.

You can't 'get' trust from your staff.  You have to earn it.  I think this can take a long time.  I have been in schools where we followed administrators who had left their staff exhausted and demoralized.  How do you build trust with a staff in this situation?

Atv one school, I remember being told by one of my designates not to visit classrooms because these visits had been traumatic in the past.  No  trust had been built up yet.  I had to respect that.

So earning trust can be difficult.  It takes a very humble person to allow the time for trust to develop.  Having said this, it is worth it.  A former principal told me that she could not get her staff to do anything.  I have had the opposite experience - the people I work with will do anything, right down to looking for new housing for a parent forced to leave her housing project.

I am not doing anything special - I respect the people I work with as experienced professionals.  I see my position as one of supporting their efforts.  This is my role.

As for transparency, that is a great question when we are talking about trust.  Its interesting, but technology has helped in this area.  I post all staff agendas on Google Drive at least a week before we meet.  All staff had editing privileges and can add any agenda item they want to the meeting.  We also vote on major learning goals for our schools before we write up our school improvement plan at the end of the year. Principals are then obliged to design our PD around what the teachers have selected.

This is really not a big deal.  We are servants of our teachers.  When we forget that we lose their trust and we should.  I have seen schools in El Salvador where the teachers actually vote for who will be their principal.  How do you think that would affect our practice if the same thing happened here?

1 comment:

  1. Wow. That would be very interesting if the faculty voted for their principal. I have heard others describe a similar scenario in how would it affect your teaching if the students voted on who their teacher was?

    The thing about trust for me is that is takes a very long time to build or gain it, but it can be lost in an just an instant.

    Thanks for a great post, Paul.

    I hope to catch up like you very soon.