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Building Trust in a Classroom

Meredith Polsky

Trust1How can we build this kind of trust in our classrooms?

Rarely use the word “wrong”

Students need to know that you won’t press a buzzer every time they make a comment or ask a question, no matter what. Accepting their errors and misgivings means that you’ll get to know the students and their styles of learning. Also, you will demonstrate the way you’ll respond to questions for the rest of the year. The word “wrong” in a classroom is a non-starter and can inhibit further participation. We have so many ways to say that an answer is incorrect without using a word that leads a student to think, “I might as well not.”

Don’t just talk about trust, develop an atmosphere of trust

Talk about yourself and your interests; become a person to your students. Take an honest interest in their lives and demonstrate it by asking them about their interests. Even better, remember what they are involved in and follow up after a sports game or a special event. Have the students share the responsibility for decorating the classroom; doing so shows that you trust their instincts, their sense of design and their desire to contribute. Ensure that students understand why they are doing assignments and that you are not just assigning busywork. Finally, involve them in classroom problem solving, when appropriate.

Demonstrate emotional constancy

Being emotionally constant earns students’ trust because they know you are under control. Students will come to count on this constancy and begin to demonstrate it themselves. Our goal is learning, not teacher-pleasing. Therefore consider swapping phrases like, “I am disappointed in you” for, “The expectation of this class is that you give it your best effort.”

Create a joyful classroom

Bring your energy, passion and humor into every learning environment. Laugh together and share stories. Infuse art, drama, song & dance, suspense & surprise and fun into all of your lessons.

How do you build trust with your students?

This post originally ran on Removing the Stumbling Block.


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