I've been screaming it for years now - effective teaching that reaches children is based on trust. Trust. It's the most important thing a teacher establishes in their classes and with their students.
Every year in public schools around the country, and I am sure, around the world, teachers welcome new students into their classrooms. In larger schools, the teachers don't know their new students. And the kids don't always know each other. They may have never been in a class together before.
The most important thing a teacher can do to start their school year is begin to establish trust in their classroom:
- Trust between teacher and the whole class
- Trust between the teacher and each individual student
- and trust between and amongst the students. The kids have to learn to trust each other if they're going to work and grow together.
Sounds like a lofty goal, right? It is. And it's not easy to establish. It does not happen on the first day. But it starts on the first day.
Establishing trust begins from the moment your students enter the room.
HOW DO I BUILD TRUST?
A good question. The answer is not that difficult. Trust, after all, is subjective. Different people have different levels of trust. Some are more trusting than others. Much of that has to do with the family or home dynamic they are coming from.
What makes you trust someone?
Again the answer differs from person to person but if you gathered data from multiple sources, you'd probably find some common themes.
I trust when someone does what they say they will do.
I trust when someone is consistent with their rules and when the rules are applied to everyone fairly.
I trust people who are willing to be open and honest with me.
WHAT DOES TRUST LOOK LIKE?
When my students walk into my class they know that they are getting Mr. Tesher. They know that they will hear honest feedback from me. They know that I will be fair. They know that I will challenge them, make them think, give them the courage and the freedom to use their imagination, take risks, and share their voice.
Do they challenge me? Of course.
Do they push the envelope? Hey - they're teens. Pushing the envelope is their default setting.
Did you test boundaries when you were a teenager? I blew up the friggin' boundaries and plowed through others. I got in trouble, paid a price, lost credibility, lost my way.
I share this with all of my students. By being honest with them, by being open and truthful and no BS they know that I understand them.
I earn their trust.
I earn it.
LIVE OR REMOTE
Come September, whether you are teaching live in a classroom with students or remotely from a home office through Google and Zoom, start earning your kids trust from day one, minute one.
Get to the know them.
Follow through on your promises.
When kids trust their teacher, they will do anything for them. And that teacher can take their students to new heights of learning.
Have fun, stay healthy and be true to yourself.
Hi. My name is Stephen Tesher. I am a novelist, screenwriter, educator, and father. I've authored three books, staged numerous plays and optioned screenplays, articles, and this blog.