Skip to Main Content. Blog Contact Us. Assessing trust at your school How would you say your school or district measures up when it comes to having a trusting culture? Do I interact in a courteous way, or am I distracted and playing with my phone? Do I say hello in the front office?
Do I respond to e-mails in a timely manner? Can others trust me to put the interests of students first, and do I demonstrate that I trust them to do the same? If something that will support student growth needs to be written up or a meeting needs to be attended, do I do it because it is best for students? Do I ask for their insights? Do I ask how they are when they come back from being absent? Do I go the extra mile for someone when I know there is a need? Look at your customer service levels. Can a parent reach the school during the day or does their call go directly into voicemail?
Do you take time to listen to whomever happens to be speaking with you at the moment, or are you thinking about how much you need to do and how quickly you can get them out of your office? When you and your staff demonstrate consistent messages of respect and it must begin with you , you will begin to create the bonds that build strong and trusting relationships. It all boils down to respect for the individual—one at a time.
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It is the small slights that can undermine respect—notice them and fix them! Implement a climate of respect. It might be as simple as returning phone calls, acknowledging concerns, a smiling face yours , getting input by asking questions and deciding what you will do with the answers. Communicate competence and integrity. It is a common tactic to avoid providing information when the news isn't so good maybe we hope no one will notice, and we'll avoid any conflict if it all blows over.
Why School Culture Matters and Strategies to Improve It
Rather, an effective communicator will deliver concrete, clear information with confidence. If you radiate a sense of calm and patience while offering solutions and information, you will communicate competence. Your words demonstrate competence, and your actions if in alignment with your words will reflect your integrity. Walk your talk. Practical trust building steps for school leaders If you want to be school administrator who is successful at building trust with your staff do the following: Communicate to your staff: Know that many parents will judge your school based on successful or unsuccessful interactions with their child's teacher.
Make sure you communicate the importance of good school customer service in this area, and train your teachers to appreciate the value of each interaction they have with parents. Acknowledge and appreciate the positive interactions. Encourage your staff to speak their mind with openness and honesty without fear or reprisal. Include others in decision making. Live your life with honesty and integrity, and your actions will communicate far louder than any words you might speak. Communicate to your parents: Use your school website to create excellent customer service by creating and managing a school website with the requisite self-service information parents need.
It should be a resource to do business with your school easily and reliably. Can parents find vital info they need there—forms, events, calendars, procedures, and accurate information? Information should be current, thorough, and timely. Do you make yourself available to teachers, parents, and students both online and in person? Show that you care and are not afraid to take a personal interest in the well-being of others, whether it is staff, students, or families.
Communicate to the community: Use the media to share successes.
Toot your horn. Contact education beat reporters, write up press releases, and put all this information on the website, and use your social media to drive parents to your school website. Good communication is key if you want to create an environment of trust and respect. Make sure transparency is a driving force behind your school communication strategies. Your school communication strategies, including your website and social media are a driving force behind your school brand. Make sure building trust is part of your school branding goals.
When leadership decision-making is perceived as arbitrary and not in the best interest of the school or not communicated in a way that clarifies the reasoning behind it Frequent turnover in school leadership or teaching staff Failure to remove staff who are widely viewed by others as inadequate Ineffective or insufficient communication.
Accept responsibility —take blame when things go wrong, and give credit when things go right. Show appreciation —saying thank you goes a long way, and it travels even further when done publicly. Lift up others as a shining example any chance you get. Be a good listener —improving your listening skills allows you to collect new information seeing problems and then solutions and build trust and rapport.
Show enthusiasm —a positive attitude is contagious.
Improving culture is not an end in itself, but the means by which school leaders can address the goals of student progress and achievement. Thus, improving culture is not an end in itself, but the means by which school leaders can address the goals of student progress and achievement. Three features of school cultures that have been tied to student learning are:.
Professional community PC directs a spotlight on the relationships among adults within the school. The essence of professional community is that all adults in a school are presented with the opportunity to work with others to grow and change — and that meaningful and sustained connections are necessary for that to occur.
This occurs when teachers take collective responsibility for improving student learning. Collective responsibility, in which all members feel accountable for all students, is at the core of intensified leadership.
The concept of organizational learning OL suggests that continuous improvement through collective engagement with new ideas will generate enhanced classroom practices and a deeper understanding of how organizational improvement occurs. Seemingly random contacts with novel ideas as well as structured efforts to examine data and plan new programs may both produce forward momentum.
OL focuses on the ways in which new ideas are brought into the school organization, how they are considered and evaluated, and the ways in which school organizations retain and use the knowledge generated from them. Culture is enhanced as more members of the school community learn new and better ways to address the needs of students and then work to share those understandings with others.
Trust is the glue that holds social networks and relationships together.
The Makings of a Successful School Leader
In schools trust is considered to be the result of several dispositions working in concert, among these are integrity or honesty and openness , concern also called benevolence or personal regard for others , competence, and reliability or consistency. Trust has been linked with organizational effectiveness in business settings; in schools trust among teachers and between teachers and other groups is linked to higher student achievement Tschannen-Moran, School culture is most powerful when the ideas that underscore each of the themes are viewed as strategic cultural actions.
When viewed as strategic actions, building professional communities, creating opportunities for organizational learning, and developing trust are not things done once. Nor is the culture that emerges from these efforts something you can claim to have become and then ignore.
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Rather, it is an orientation toward school leadership. Intensification of leadership provides you the skill set to change your school culture and to achieve your goals for student success. Bryk, A. Trust in schools: A core resource for improvement. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Hord, S. Leadership and professional learning communities: Possibilities, practice and performance. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Kruse, S. Building strong school cultures: A guide to leading change.
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Levitt, B. Organizational learning. Annual Review of Sociology, 14, Louis, K. Professionalism and community: Perspectives on reforming urban schools. Stoll, L. Professional learning communities: Divergence, depth and dilemmas.
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Tschannen-Moran, M. Trust matters: Leadership for successful schools. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.