Understanding 7: Learning Requires Trust

In an environment lacking in trust, we will attend first to self-protection. We will not take risks. We will play it safe. To learn we must already feel our community’s embrace, then we are free to venture out and fail with safety, take what was learned and venture out again.

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” 
― E.E. Cummings

  1. Intuition Pumps: Daniel Dennett on the Dignity and Art-Science of Making Mistakes
  2. Video: Stress and Learning, BrainRules.net
  3. Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for School Reform Anthony S. Bryk and Barbara Schneider
  4. Chapter One of Classroom of Choice by Jonathan C. Erwin


Leading Together: Building Adult Community in Schools from Center for Courage & Renewal on Vimeo.


One Response to “Understanding 7: Learning Requires Trust”

  1. Dodie Schlueter July 24, 2017 at 9:03 pm Permalink

    My link: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_why_good_leaders_make_you_feel_safe

    I found a Ted Talk with the speaker, Simon Sinek. Simon Sinek is also the author of such books as, “Start With Why” and “Leaders Eat Last”.

    In this Ted Talk, Mr. Sinek is discussing leaders and how making subordinates feel safe and secure is crucial to success. In other words, trust is necessary to success. In this video, he is mainly discussing the topic in terms of the business model, but as I watched and listened, I was easily able to see parallels to the education system/model at all levels. Simon states that social cooperation is needed to form a circle of safety and that leaders cannot obtain this through instruction or orders because this is achieved through feelings. He states that in the absence of trust and safety, people will use their time and energy to protect themselves and will even sacrifice others to remain safe. Leaders realize that they can only control that which lies within the circle of safety. The true leader can exist at any level within the system and sets the tone. Great leaders provide opportunity and are willing to give of themselves for the sake of others. They will coach and give support when and where it is needed, looking after those to their left and to their right. Leaders are followed by their subordinates because of the mutual trust and feeling of safety, not because they have authority and power over others. Too often, the “leaders” in schools, whether they are board members, administrators, teachers, or other school officials function as authorities because they are focused on rules, consequences, statistics, test scores, grades, numbers, etc. When leaders are leaders, and not authorities, morale goes up! Productivity and performance increases! And all because of social cooperation and a feeling of safety and trust. When this relationship exists, people are wiling to give of themselves to benefit others. I can see this applying to myself as a teacher in relation to my administrators. I have had both leaders and authorities for administrators, and I can confirm that I was a happier, more productive and effective teacher when I was working for/with the leader. I envision this also to be true in the classroom with the teacher-student relationship. I have often recognized more academic growth in students for which I have developed a positive relationship. Students need to know they are safe in the classroom, and that I will put myself on the line for them. They need to feel that I put their needs above my own. They need to understand that they are important to me, and not just a test score or set of numbers.

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