How To Build Deep Trust With Your New Class

Smart Classroom Management: How To Build Deep Trust With Your New ClassTrust is an often-overlooked aspect of effective classroom management.

But it’s critically important.

It’s important because when your students trust you—really trust you—everything is easier.

And when they don’t?

Well, nothing works as it should.

Listening, attentiveness, motivation, work habits, respect, behavior . . .

Virtually every area of classroom management is made weaker when your students are unsure about you, your motives, and the things you say.

Most teachers will tell you that they’re 100% trustworthy—and many are when it comes to adult relationships.

But something odd happens to them when they stand in front of children and young people.

Somewhere in the back of their mind, perhaps just outside of conscious awareness, they believe that telling little white lies here and there can’t hurt.

It can even help. After all, they’re just kids. They don’t know any better.

So they shower their students with praise for behavior or performance that isn’t worthy of it. They pretend they don’t see misbehavior when enforcing a consequence is a hassle.

They’ll say whatever is necessary in the heat of the moment to appease, coerce, persuade, or manipulate students into behaving.

But being less than honest is self-sabotage.

Because every time you play loose with the truth, every time you say one thing and do another, your students take notice. And it changes them.

They become less motivated, less enthusiastic, and less interested in pleasing you and following your lead. They don’t listen as well or are as dedicated to their work. They lose respect for you and begin in engaging in behavior to match.

The truth is, they do know better.

And when they learn this about you the first week of school, when it dawns on them that they can’t count on you, they’ll dismiss your vision for the class with a wave of the hand.

Building deep and abiding trust, of the kind that inspires an almost reverent-like respect, is nothing more than following through on your promises and being truthful with your words.

This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to be perfect. We all make mistakes, but they should be rare and singular events rather than a persistent habit.

Being a teacher of integrity doesn’t take great skill or effort. You don’t have to look or dress a certain way. You don’t have to work at it over a period of months.

But it will single-handedly strengthen and improve every area of classroom management.

It will also make your day-to-day job easier and less stressful.

So make it a point this school year to do exactly what you say. Be real and transparent, a straight shooter, consistent in word and action.

Walk the talk.

And your students will follow you to the mountaintops of the world.

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14 Responses to How To Build Deep Trust With Your New Class

  1. Regina King August 27, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    This is great advice. I did not realize how mentally exhausting this job can be. I need someone to help me get the kids in a quiet line. I thought about making them practice,but they are seventh graders and the school does not want them to be in the halls for a long time. After I tell them we will not go anywhere until it’s quiet, an older deeper voice woman will yell for them to be quiet and then they get quiet. I don’t have a loud, deep voice. It has been draining. It’s only the first month and in mid school year evaluations will come. I really just want to be done with this year ASAP and figure out some things career wise . I should have taught kindergarten. Meanwhile, we still have not gotten paid and I am dead broke. Maybe I’m just venting, but I need the kids to respect each other and me. They talk while I’m teaching and during class work. The students who are trying to concentrate get annoyed by the loud ones. I’ve called parents and assigned detention. I guess I will continue to do this until it kills me or they are quiet. Something has to give. Now, when giving incentives the loud badly behaved students will want a prize lol. .. Absolutely not!!! Hopefully they will catch on once they see they will get no prize and their grades are dropping.

    • Shawn Wade August 27, 2016 at 8:06 pm #


      My heart is breaking at reading your post from this morning. I have to say I was in your shoes last year after returning to teaching after 20 years out of the profession. I wish I could say that it is going to be easy but the answer is, it really is going to be up to you and what you want to put into it. Your students feel your stress, your students know your frustrations and they will feed off of it and use it against you, but you can change that. Honestly, there are some great answers right here on this blog. Do a search for something specific and then just follow the related posts and just try one thing at a time. Every time you try one thing, you are making an investment in your future in teaching.

      It is NEVER too late to start your behavior management system with your students and they will respect you when they know you respect them. Remember that positive narration can go a long way, thinking aloud can be your best friend and rewarding the behaviors you want can save your classroom this year.

      I wish you the very best this year because your students need you and you will find that you need them to learn just as much. You can do this and you are going to be great!

    • Tina August 28, 2016 at 8:02 am #

      Regina, I am in the same boat! Tomorrow I am going to try quiet! I realized my voice gets louder as the kids get louder. They always do. I always do! I only have the ability to change myself. I am going to try tomorrow to not give in to the temptation to yell, flick the lights or any other behavior that mirrors the behaviors I do not want in my classroom.

    • Terry August 28, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

      Middle school is a tough place to start a teaching career. I’ve been working with seventh graders for fifteen years. The first year I thought I would die. I had no support from the admin or counselors. Let me suggest a few things: 1. Get to know a veteran teacher. Meet daily with that teacher and ask questions about management strategies and school-wide expectations. 2. Remain consistent with whatever you start. Students want to know that they can trust you. 3. Use “ticket-out-the-door” assignments. Tell students that they cannot walk out the door until the assignment is done. Make sure it is a reasonable amount of work like a paragraph or notes, etc. I stand at the door and check every one of them. If it isn’t done, I send them back in to finish. Amazingly, it gets done during passing period. If you do this two or three days a week, you will become believable. 4. Don’t yell – kids will think you’re crazy. Do echo claps or count downs from five or “If you can hear my voice, clap once. If you can hear my voice, clap twice.” Or just wait silently and stare at the students. If you are waiting, quietly say, “I’m waiting.” These strategies work. Sometimes we do a lot of clapping in a class period, but it works.

      Finally, try to find a counselor or administrator you talk to. They want you to succeed. Hopefully, you will be able to put together a support team of folks to go to when it seems like the day is impossible. On my campus it works.

      Best wishes…don’t give up yet!

  2. Chandra Hart August 27, 2016 at 11:00 am #

    While this is sage advise, it is easier said than done. I am a first year teacher learning a new curriculum, that the school has just adopted, dealing with kids who are not having their basic needs met, such as food, sleep and love, and managing all of this with a great deal of inexperience. I took to heart your advice about making a commitment to be consistent. I’ve stated it, and restated it, but it has been difficult when I have already had an office referral. Only three parents showed up for back to school night, and one wasn’t a parent but a babysitter. Kids have to travel on the bus for an hour to get to and from school. When a snack seems like a Christmas present to these kids, building trust is extremely difficult.

  3. Hannah August 27, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    This is so true. For parenting too

  4. AWilliams August 27, 2016 at 5:04 pm #

    Awww! This is the reason I have been so successful with my students these sat few years after transitioning from the corporate world. My thinking was simply: “do unto others..” I love honesty and was honest from day one. I couldn’t understand it all until now. How my students still gravitate to my room, visit after graduating. It’s amazing! Thanks for clarifying a few things for me.

    • Michael Linsin August 27, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

      You’re welcome, A!


  5. Deb August 31, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

    I have multi-age art classes in our small school from 6th -12th. It is difficult to keep the older kids from disrupting the others, but I don’t want to move them within the younger groups to sit, since it seems I’m punishing the younger kids. Today i stopped my lesson, because I said I will not compete for their attention, but it took a half hour to finally get them to be silent, and then the magic in my class was then lost. How do I proceed in this situation and get things feeling better?

    • Michael Linsin August 31, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

      Hi Deb,

      I wish I could give you a couple of quick pointers, but this is a big question with many variables. I would also have many questions for you before I’d be able to give you reliable advice. Although there is a cost involved, we do offer personal coaching.


  6. Diana September 14, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

    Thanks for this article Michael. I follow your blog regularly and have found it to be very helpful- it definitely gives me a clear picture of what to strive for, though it’s much easier said than done. I think trust is an area I struggle with, but not because of dishonesty or lack of integrity. For me, I think it’s more about myself trusting that my lesson plan is a good one, or that my expectations for the students are reasonable (I’ll wonder if I’m missing the mark with the lesson, too boring, too hard, etc)– and when they sense this doubt, they try to take control of the class in various ways, or they just get excitable and I feel myself talking too fast and getting more nervous. I also think there is a degree of honesty that is too much when teaching– I catch myself sometimes saying things like “hmm, I should have come up with a better system for this”, and I think that this type of honesty erodes trust rather than builds it. I wonder if you could speak to those other elements of building trust, in a response or perhaps a future article. Thank you again for all your thoughtful guidance in this messy and challenging work.

    • Michael Linsin September 15, 2016 at 8:03 am #

      Hi Diana,

      Yes, definitely. I think confidence is a big factor. I’ll be sure and cover this topic soon. Thanks for the suggestion.


  7. Joy September 25, 2016 at 9:05 am #

    I’m rather new to your blog, and I already find your advice and tips quite helpful. I teach science to 2-5 graders in a single day. Each group comes to my lab for an hour. My problem is: I will hear chatter coming from a certain direction, but I often can’t always quickly discern who is responsible for the noise. While trying to observe and discern who the culprit is in one part of the room, chatter might begin from another region of the classroom, and thus the search for truth continues. I wish to be quite fair, so I don’t wish to guess who the offender is. It might sound rather ridiculous, but there you have it. Please note that on more occasions than not the offender is quite easily spotted, and appropriate consequences are delivered. Any tips or advice? It’s terribly frustrating.
    P.S. So very sorry if this matter has been thoroughly discussed somewhere else on this blog. I admit I haven’t read every morsel.
    Thank you!

    • Michael Linsin September 25, 2016 at 10:43 am #

      Hi Joy,

      I have written about this topic before, but will be sure and cover it again in the future. Also, you may want to check out the book for specialists (the orange one along the sidebar). The title includes anyone who sees several classes per week.


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