Trust 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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