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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Trust (Part 1)

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


June 05, 2017

noun on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

2.confident expectation of something; hope.

3.confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit (

This month’s Sustaining the Journey will focus on Trust and its importance in organizations and in schools.

In Day One of Cognitive Coachingsm Foundation Seminar, three types of Trust are explored: organic, relational, and contractual. If organic trust is the “blind trust”, the unquestioning faith that one person puts into an organization or an individual, contractual trust is the articulated, explicitly stated, often legal document that one agent can put in place with another to insure that the provisions are carried out and the agreement is fulfilled. Mid-way between organic and contractual trust is relational trust, a far more tenuous belief in another that is based on consistency over time and validation of stated intentions. “It is founded on both beliefs and observed behavior and requires that expectations are validated through behavior.” In relational trust, judgments are drawn from behavior, how people feel, and beliefs about others’ intentions.

Additionally, Garmston and Wellman in Adaptive Schools, describe six factors that work together to provide a basis for shared responsibility for student success in Professional Communities. Those six factors are:

1. Compelling purpose, shared standards, and academic focus

2. Collective efficacy and shared responsibility for student learning

3. Social capital emerging from teacher talk about learning

4. Collaborative cultures communally applying effective teaching practices

5. Relational trust in one another, in students, and in parents

6. Individual and group learning based on ongoing assessment and feedback (Adaptive Schools, 3rd edition, Chapter 7, 2016)

It is that demonstration of benevolence, shared and diminishing vulnerability, integrity, ability/competence, positive presuppositions, honesty, and mutual respect that form the bedrock of enhanced student achievement and school climate.

The expectation that certain role identities validate their intentions through actions and social exchanges is important for a positive school climate. According to Bryk and Schnieder, Trust in Schools, (2003), those role relationships are:

a. school-professional to community member;

b. teacher to principal;

c. teacher to teacher;

d. and teacher to student.

With each of these role identities there are certain expectations and obligations. The school (principals and teachers) expect parents to get their children to school on time and to support the school’s Codes of Conduct and academic expectations as it functions in “loco parentis.” At the same time, parents expect that teachers will fairly treat their children and provide the best possible educational environment for them. According to Hoy, Tartar, and Woolfolk-Hoy in their white paper “Academic Optimism,” (2006), faculty trust in one another, in students, and in parents is a crucial affective component. The school personnel to parent trust relationship is a particularly important factor in socio-economically challenged settings. Parents must feel that the school staff trusts that the parents are doing the best job that they can. It may not be the same job the teacher or the principal may do, but it is the best job the parent can do given his/her set of circumstances. Power is a shared and mutually dependent commodity in a school community, and all parties remain vulnerable to each other. Decreasing this sense of vulnerability is a key ingredient in the development of relational trust. So, for support function relationships to succeed in a school, trust must be established through competence, integrity, respect, and confidentiality. And for a school to become a high-functioning “professional community learning,” relational trust must be fostered and developed along with collective efficacy and academic emphasis (Hoy, Tartar, and Woolfolk-Hoy, 2006). In the end, it “makes it more likely that people in schools will begin and continue the kinds of activities necessary to improve student achievement.”

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