If teachers want to learn from each other, they must be willing to let down their defences, to be honest in what they share and to be open to changing some of their deeply held beliefs. This involves letting themselves become vulnerable, which in turn requires trust.
Trust is critical to any attempt to get teachers learning from each other – whether it be through peer led PD, informal conversations or more formalised professional learning communities.
But how do you build it?
Stephen Robbins has been studying human behaviour and trust for many years, and he has this to say.
School leaders (i.e. formal leaders + experienced teachers) can help create a climate of trust by:
- Being honest in everything they say to colleagues and staff
- Striving to have their actions match their words
- Genuinely caring about other teachers and the students they teach
- Proving they are worth listening to – that is by doing a good job themselves
- Helping them to set concrete and challenging goals related to aspects of their students’ performance.
- Celebrating real successes that teachers have with their students
- Giving them feedback, starting with advice and moving into coaching as they begin to master the challenge before them
Research shows that when people trust each other:
- They are more willing to take risks
- They share information more readily
- Group activities are more effective
- They achieve better results