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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 3)

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


June 19, 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 (

“Trusting Collegial Relationships Build Strengths in Learning Systems” by Destini Martin, Michelle Pourchot, Rachel Blundell, and Kimberly Ross (Learning Forward, February 24, 2017)

This article tells the successful story of principal collaboration, collegial trust, vulnerability and support in the Sante Fe (Texas) ISD. The authors begin their article with this powerful statement that echoed the closing statement of last week’s Sustaining the Journey. They write: “Educators believe that a strong student-teacher relationship can produce positive outcomes in student achievement. We witness this in our schools on a daily basis. Students who have typically displayed problematic behaviors with engagement in learning show success within objectives due to the emotional bond they share with their teacher. Educators also believe that collaborative teaching teams are more effective than those working in isolation.”

That statement echoes and reinforces Adaptive Schools Six Factors of the Professional Community: compelling purpose, shared standards, and academic focus; collective efficacy and shared responsibility for student learning; social capital emerging from teacher talk about learning; collaborative cultures communally applying effective teaching practices; and relational trust in one another, in students, and in parents. These elements improve school climate and maximize student performance.

The authors were particularly interested in the “impact of trusting collegial relationships among school principals and the effect on an entire school system.” The authors — four principals in the system who explored this concept — set out to join forces in a trust-based relationship to solve school-community issues. They suspected that collaboration would be more productive than working in isolation.

The principal-authors asked the question: “How do you build trust and vulnerability among principals?” One of the first answers was found in “leadership.” At the very top of their district leadership, the principals found support with their superintendent. The superintendent set the “standard for transparency and provided resources that allowed these relationships to build.” One is reminded of the Adaptive Schools Goal: to develop our collective identities and capacities as collaborators, inquirers, and leaders, in complex systems. Sante Fe ISD set out to create their own Principal PLC in order to “develop and facilitate efficacious, thoughtful collaborative groups” (Adaptive Schools purpose). They wrote about powerful protocols that they learned which supported their efforts. Again, one is reminded of the concepts, tools, and strategies of Adaptive Schools and their ability to nurture collaboration and trust through psychological safety. The Norms of Collaboration, in particular, give people common language and dispositional tools. The authors write, “The trust we had established allowed us to do this with ease because we had faith in each other and our cohesive group to build high-quality professional learning and systems.”

The authors also cited the importance of “deep reflective practices.” They talk about supporting each other to “articulate clear plans for growth.” One immediately thinks about the impact that Cognitive Coachingsm would have if individuals were trained in the planning, reflecting, problem re-solving, and calibrating maps, along with the coaching tools and capabilities. Also, systems would be enhanced with the concepts, norms, and strategies of Adaptive Schools because the work strives to support (systems) in developing and facilitating efficacious, thoughtful collaborative groups. Finally, the mission of Thinking Collaborative, Adaptive Schools and Cognitive Coaching, is to provide individuals and organizations with the strategies, skills and concepts to establish and sustain structures for thinking and collaborating that result in increased performance and resourcefulness.

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