“People will always move toward anyone who increases them and away from others who devalue them.”
– John Maxwell
I think the key to building trust with students, families and staff for me is to ensure they feel valued.
I work hard to build trust with my students. Many have plenty of reasons not to trust; some come from trauma backgrounds and some come from very unsuccessful school experiences and never had anyone believe in their ability to succeed. I endeavour to build trust by listening first and foremost. I listen to what they have to say, what their parents/families/carers have to say and I try to take the history from their previous school as useful, but not the complete story.
I retweeted the tweet below from @supportmeandyou to my staff. Sometimes it’s hard to reassure myself and my colleagues not to take the behaviour personally. That can be hard when a student with ASD is having a melt down and calling you every name under the sun, or when a child of trauma is hating you because you showed another student attention.
The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways
— Support Me & You (@supportmeandyou) August 31, 2013
It is the trust we build, so these kids can feel comfortable in their skin, to break down barriers and be ready to learn so they are no longer anxious about being judged, ignored or unsuccessful, and ultimately because they feel valued.
I work hard to build relationships and trust with families. I do this through continual communication and fostering a message that their child is at the centre of everything we do. I endeavour to provide lots of opportunities to celebrate student learning and include families in “real time” by utilising text messaging (including photos), our class blog, phone calls and emails and requesting feedback both formally and informally. At times I have had to reflect on whether my openness with parents is sustainable as there have been occasions when they have relied on me more than is perhaps ideal, but I will continue to regulate this balance.
With staff that I “manage”, I endeavour to build trust by never asking them to do anything I am not willing to do myself. This includes; simple errands, curriculum development, planning, behaviour management and student personal care (which generally falls upon support staff). I hope that by doing all the tasks I ask of teachers and support staff, I show them how much they are valued and that I never take them for granted.
I also hope to build trust by doing what I say, not just talking about it. This is a challenge as a new leader because in the past I have tended to take on too much and not allow my staff to be responsible for anything, and I mean ANYTHING! I KNOW that my role is to help build skills in my staff so that I can make myself somewhat redundant, this is something I truly see as a measure of my success. It is however one of my greatest challenges and I am extremely conscious of providing opportunities and entrusting these amazing staff to shine and not avoid delegating for fear of loss of control. I know that by doing this, I will ultimately demonstrate that I value them.