Building Trust and Community
Updated: Sep 28, 2018
Building Trust and Community is, I believe, the most important consideration for a teacher. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most challenging. In the midst of lessons, tests, projects, inquiry, marking - and much more - how do you find time in the busy day to play games and take the time for important conversations? How do you approach sensitive subjects safely and efficiently? Especially when there is such pressure to cover the curriculum in creative, innovative ways with children who increasingly need more help emotionally?
One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn't as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing. ~ Jean Vanier
This quote has guided me for years now, especially since I started looking at the social/emotional needs of my students as one of the most important things I do as a teacher. Interestingly, it also has a practical application. When community and trust are nurtured in a classroom, the students learn to take care of and support each other.
What has happened for me?
I was introduced to the idea of creating community in the classroom when I was taking a course through SFU taught by Leyton Schnellert. Not only were we taught to focus on creating community in our classrooms, we also practiced this skill ourselves within our cohort of teachers. I had just finished a year in which I felt particularly disconnected to my students, and I was more than willing to do things differently.
Often when trying something new, there is an awkward transition, or you meet stumbling blocks during the implementation. It has not been this way with teaching community and trust; it has been completely positive, and an overwhelming success!
Or rather to me?
Parker Palmer says that we teach who we are, and building trust and community in your classroom will change who you are. It has to. There is no other possible outcome.
Getting to know your students, and guiding them to know and care about each other will mean that you are in relationship with them, just as they are in relationship with each other. Your classroom will become less like an institution and more like a family. Once you have experienced this you will never want to go back.
I would like to leave you with a talk by Rita Pierson who said it best.