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FOSTERING A CULTURE OF TRUST AMONG EDUCATIONAL LEADERS

Trust is absolute; it is present or absent, yet it is not possible to have total trust all of the time, What’s more, trust is similar to a muscle – it is reinforced and strengthened through continuous use or application. Trust in these relationships is not always reciprocal or mutual, socio-demographic and cultural factors also affect trust levels as the shared values, beliefs, and behavioral norms reflect the members of the community, Trust is a valuable social currency and fundamental to creativity, innovation, and risk-taking as well as for the economic performance.

In fostering a Culture of Trust within and Outside a School System, Organizations must strive to foster a culture with shared values, a shared mission or goal, open and authentic leadership, use of consensus not force, enjoyment of work, a positive atmosphere, a safe learning environment, and honest and authentic conversations.

Schools are highly effective because teachers have the greatest impact on student achievement. However, teachers are only one component in the complex schooling environment. The environment of a school, or its culture, greatly affects teachers’ day-to-day experiences in the profession, and also has a significant impact on student achievement. Trust in schools comes down to one thing: psychological safety, safety to speak one’s mind, to discuss with openness and honesty what is and isn’t working, to make collective decisions, to take risks, to fail—all things required for deep organizational change and transformation.

If we can get the right people in this key position, trained in the importance of developing a positive school culture, we might well see a significant improvement in teacher satisfaction and student achievement. Schools that benefit the most from strong leadership and culture are the least likely to have great qualities. I have no doubt that school principals across the nation desire to create a positive school culture for both their teachers and students. However, there are no simple answers, no one-size-fits-all approach. The most promising solution lies in how we select, recruit, train, and retain school principals. In order to create positive change in schools, there must be trust – not only between staff members but also between staff and the principal and teachers willingly try harder and teach better when they trust and admire their leaders.

How educational leaders can foster a “Culture of Trust”:

  • Trust-promoting strategies must be initiated and sustained by leaders, which will be observed, internalized, and emulated by employees.
  • Ability, benevolence, and integrity are fundamental dimensions for building trust in vertical relationships with leaders.
  • Consistency in the following behaviors should be encouraged among leaders and employees: honesty, openness, reliability/predictability, competency, and caring.
  • Following an act of distrust, communication, reparations, penance, structural arrangements, and accountability may help to build and repair trust.
  • Transformational leadership is the most favorable leadership practice to earning trust.
  • Employees across a school system need to be engaged in collaborative decision making and shared leadership.
  • Encourage public involvement by acknowledging the importance of the public’s voice. District and board leaders should engage informally and formally with their communities by setting an annual public consultation plan, attending community meetings outside district offices, and becoming a visible spokesperson for public education and their school district, respectively.

Article by: Blessing Bassey

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