TCHERS' VOICE / Professional Learning

#TchWellness: TRUST. Give it to Get it

Getting Better Together

This entry is the fourth post in the series #TchWellness.

As part of Teaching Channel's #TchWellness series, I'm connecting with a series of authors who are helping me -- and you -- understand issues impacting teachers. Our first, Nan Russell, author of Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation, recently sat down with me for an interview. Her work, not limited to education, explores how trust is developed and sustained.

I asked Nan a series of questions. A few pertained to our evaluation system and the disconnect that often occurs between administrators and teachers around trust. Though not my current experience, I've been in schools where the main stressor in the building is the perceived distrust between administrators and staff. This tension can be divisive and polarizing, decreasing the amount of collaborative, productive conversation.

Perceived trust impacted my teacher wellness in profound ways, so I began with questions that were more focused on what the administrator can do to create trust in a school. Nan, in her calm yet affirming voice, told me I had it backwards. It wasn't that the administrator would singularly inspire trust in the relationship. If trust was to be developed, it would need to start with me. Puzzled, I reflected internally, almost defensively. Surely I had tried to create close, trusting relationships. Yet, if I'm honest, I often shifted blame to others for their actions that led to distrust, void of any role I played in that dynamic.

What started as a conversation turned into a listening opportunity. Nan told me that if I wanted to get trust, I first had to give it. I suppose this likens to the golden rule -- treat others the way you want to be treated. And as simple and straightforward as this was, it was hard to imagine. With all my educational baggage, societal conversations surrounding bad teachers, and intense parental scrutiny, I'd have to put all that aside and give trust -- equally -- to students, families, administrators, and colleagues.

I pondered this interview for a week. I was so busy finding blame outside myself, I'd failed to look inward, at the power I had in creating trusting relationships. I realized that my inability to trust the intentions and efforts of others was clouding my judgement in unhealthy ways. Unintentionally, Nan helped to free me from the negative feelings I was having toward individuals within the educational system who had treated me unfairly.

Most importantly, Nan reminded me of the "most people rule." That is, "most people, most of the time, have good intentions."

So I reflected:

A parent that's complaining repeatedly simply wants the best for their child.

A student with intense behaviors is likely having an internal conflict I'm unaware of or unable to see, but at his/her core, wants to do well.

An administrator with high expectations wants to profoundly impact student learning in positive ways.

This month, when you have a challenging conversation with a student, parent, colleague, or boss, I want you to remember the "most people rule." The intentions of the other person are likely good. Their perspective is valuable. Beginning with the assumption that the other person's intentions are good, you can then relax your heart into a place where you can be free to trust. Maybe you have to press reset a time or two, abide by norms, or agree to disagree, but at the core of your thinking can be an ability to connect with others in trusting ways. As you suspend judgement, you'll free yourself to live with peace and calm, both qualities of a wellness mentality. And, when you're ready, give trust away and understand that over time, once you respect and believe in others, "most people" will respect and believe in you in return.

Read the entire interview and stay tuned for Part 2 of November's #TchWellness series: The Three Components to Developing Trusting Relationships.

Are you an author or do you have an idea for Crystal to write about in the #TchWellness series? Write to her @TheMathDancer or comment below.

Crystal Morey is a K-6 instructional coach in Kent, Washington. Crystal spent the past seven years teaching middle level mathematics. She's a strong advocate of inquiry based mathematics instruction, as well as increasing student voice in the classroom. Crystal has partnered with a variety of organizations on projects, including Illustrative Mathematics, Washington STEM, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington State. When not teaching, Crystal is a mom to two energetic children. She utilizes her many life experiences to speak about the challenges and opportunities many educators face. Connect with Crystal on Twitter: @TheMathDancer.


Wow, so simplistic, yet so very necessary. Thank both of you for sharing the "most people" concept. I had truly become so bitter at the toxic political environment created that I subconsciously created tensions where none should have existed. Very well received.
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Crystal, It's reading blogs like this and being involved in professional learning communities through Twitter and Voxer that help me to stay self-reflective. Especially when an idea challenges my current way of thinking. This did just that. It forced me to search within for my own role in creating a trusting atmosphere at work. Still pondering this. Nan's explanation of "behavioral integrity is where what you say and what you do is in alignment and consistent" is powerful. Wow. I tend to lose some trust of others when I see these out of alignment with them, yet that would be where "the most people" rule could be helpful for me to remember. Also, the part of the interview where she explains that if your intention when you go in to get your performance review is to view the person evaluating you as being on the opposite side of you, like judging you vs helping you, then that changes the way you enter the situation and experience it even before it has occured - WOWzers. How powerful is that? So we've painted it, framed it, hung it, and deemed it unworthy all before we even went into the gallery. Thank you so much for continuing to inspire deep self-reflection as we continue to grow. This is indeed an integral part of our own daily wellness.
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