It all comes down to trust.
One of my roommates is a teacher, and some of her teacher friends from a different part of the state came to visit her this weekend. Naturally, I spent our Sunday morning time at the breakfast table bringing up issues in education.
Good conversation was had. As one new acquaintance, Shelby, put it, so many issues in education come down to trust – or a lack thereof.
There is a lack of trust in our education system today. As teachers, we often feel that we are going to get “dinged” for missteps in our evaluations rather than praised and rewarded for what we are doing right, that our observers and evaluators are out to get us and that we must prove our good teaching rather than being trusted to do our jobs on a daily basis. This affects school culture among faculty and staff in a wholly negative way.
We assign students ridiculous rules and policies like silent transitions in straight lines accompanied by teachers. Yes, you read that correctly. Our school systems and administrators do not feel that students can be trusted to get from one class to another at the middle school level, so not only must we take them, but we must do so without talking.
The way I see it, we need our administrators to be supportive, first and foremost. We must trust them, as Dr. LaKimbre Brown explains in this blog post for Teach For All. This is what will build school culture rather than destroy it.
We are not going to feel that if we think they always act in a punitive way and are just looking for points to take away whenever they come in. They need to coach us, guide us, have our backs, and, really, most of all, administer so we don’t have to: do the paperwork. Create and maintain systems. Manage all of us. Connect with stakeholders.
As for our kids, their passing period is one of the few brain breaks they are given throughout the day. It should be a time for kids to, within limits, let loose: chat with each other, express themselves, and take care of personal business. Instead, schools are choosing to limit this – and still expecting students to sit still, quietly, in the classes before and after.
The examples given above don’t apply to all campuses. But these are just two that help to illustrate the lack of trust that has developed on school campuses nationwide.
What’s present (or lacking) from your campus environment to cultivate a sense of trust?
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