Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Trust in Schools

One school condition that remains a strong predictor of student learning is trust in schools, and it appears that the school principal is the central figure in establishing this trust. One of my close friends and colleagues is studying the influence of the trust that exists between the principal and teachers, as well as between the principal and clients (parents and students), to influence school levels of achievement as part of his doctoral program at Rutgers University. As a member of his dissertation committee, I am anxiously awaiting some progress on this work so he can communicate his findings to practitioners, who might then further improve the levels of trust and, subsequently, student learning in schools.

While we await the findings from my colleague's work, I thought it was important to discuss some comments about organizational trust that I followed last night on the #leadfromwithin chat on Twitter. Many of the leaders who participated in this chat made some outstanding comments about the importance of trust, as well as strategies for cultivating and sustaining trust in different organizations. Although I'm not presenting much research evidence in this post, I think it's important to review some of the comments that key members of my PLN who are school leaders made during this chat. Please review the following Tweets by some outstanding educators and leadership development professionals:

As educators, I think it's important to keep these comments in mind as we continue through the 2012-2013 school year. Not only will a conscious effort to build and sustain trust help you develop stronger professional relationships with administrators, teachers, students, and parents to improve learning for all, but trust is also the foundation for most personal relationships.

Having read much of the school trust scholarly literature, one of the most important messages that I can convey is that sustaining trusting relationships to improve learning is difficult and requires a daily focus. Not only is this true in our professional relationships as educators, but also throughout relationships we have in our personal lives. As educators and individuals, I think it's important to remember that we must continue to make decisions that build on established levels of trust, otherwise, we can risk eroding relationships that may have taken months or years to develop.

I think the following Tweet provides a clear reminder about how quickly trust can fade:

Please share your thoughts on the importance of trust in sustaining satisfying and meaningful relationships in both your professional and personal roles.

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