Trust

Author: Aubrey
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Trust.

This word has been on my mind a lot lately, as I have been thinking about leadership in education. A #hacklearning chat last week. Interviewing candidates for a principal position. Going through a reorganization in our department at work. Figuring out a schedule for the art, music, and PE teachers in the district for next year. All require…

Trust.

Our #hacklearning chat was about the trust between teachers and administrators, but I think the same concept can be applied to students and teachers, or anywhere there is a power differential. It is important for administrators to be trustworthy, because they often are the ultimate decision-makers. It is important for teachers to trust them, because they often have a perspective and have more information than teachers. Yet trust is not blindly given, it is earned. One of the ways to earn trust is for administrators to trust their teachers by empowering them and giving them freedom when possible. It goes both ways.

Trust.

Interviews are an interesting exercise in trust. You have to trust that candidates are putting their true selves out there, not just spinning a great story for the committee. You have to trust the process of screenings and earlier rounds, and believe that once you get to interviews, the best candidates have truly been brought forward. And, in a process like the one I participated in, the committee doesn’t make the final decision…so you have to trust that your input will be heard, considered, and brought together with all of the other voices to make the best decision possible. That becomes easier if you trust the people ultimately doing the hiring.

Trust.

I’m going to be honest, here – this reorg has been the source of many questions and fears (along with excitement & potential for things to improve). There are so many little details that I wonder about! And I really like to know what is going on…all of the time. Yet the thing that I fall back on is trust. I trust that our leaders who have envisioned this change really believe it will help, and I trust that they will figure out the details. I trust that our leadership has the 3 Cs – they are capable, competent, and caring. This trust means that I can let go of my need to know, my desire to advocate at every turn, and my own ideas of how things should be. There is still a time and place to share all of that – and I do – but then I can leave it be and let them take my ideas along with all of the other ones and choose the best path to move forward. One of the big reasons I feel comfortable doing this is because I have seen, many times, these leaders choose to do what is right rather than what is easy. That gives me confidence that it is not only the loudest voices that will be heard! It’s freeing to let go, but it’s only possible because of the trust that has been earned.

Trust.

And now I come to a place where I have to ask for trust from others. As I develop the schedule for next year, I am acutely aware that the decisions I make will have a significant impact on the lives of my teachers and their students. I worry about making the right call, and I am asking for a lot of input. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it is essential to involve as many voices as possible in the process, but I was struck when one of my teachers and friends said to me, “We trust you to make good decisions, even if they aren’t always what we would have wanted.” Being on the flip side made me realize that it is so much easier for me to give trust than to feel like I have earned it from others. It’s affirming to know feel like my teachers trust me, and I want to live up to that! In a time where I am having to make some hard decisions, it has encouraged me to reflect on my relationships with leaders I have trusted – and, as mentioned above, something that means a lot to me is when leaders prioritize what is RIGHT over what is EASY. This tidbit has given me confidence to move forward on some things that may or may not be popular with everyone, but I believe they are the right thing for our kids and our district. As a person in a leadership position, it is my job to make these choices, even when it is uncomfortable. But hopefully, the thousands of other little decisions that have been made along the way have laid a foundation of trust for those who are affected.

Trust.

I could on and on, but one thing is clear: trust is foundational to all of our relationships, including those in schools.

How do you go about building trust with those around you? What makes (or breaks) trust in a relationship?

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Trust
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