Friday, 19 July 2013

I trust you. You trust me


It's one of the big ideas that has come out of the edtech chats I have been involved in. It has been part of my recent discussions concerning BYOT.  And it has been on my mind.  When you have your students take the world out of their pockets and have that world right there sitting on their desks in class, trust becomes an issue.

Before summer holidays, I surveyed my middle school students.  The benefits of having a big class is that I get a variety of opinions.  I have a great sample size.  And I get a few of those kids that just tell it like it is.  So sometimes rather than asking the adult experts, it is just more helpful to ask the students.  Here is a Wordle from the responses from the students on my survey about trust:

What did I ask?

 Yes everyone, the survey was on paper.  Sorry. 

What was I expecting?

I was thoroughly expecting that the majority of my students didn't feel I trusted them.  With BYOT being new to me, I spent a lot of time walking around, checking up on what was going on.  I felt the relationship I had with my class was strained.  I just plain thought our trust-matters could be better.

And what did they say?

Results of my Informal Trust Survey

Do you feel that your teacher trusts you? 85% said yes
Do you trust that your teacher wants the best for you? 89% said yes
Do you trust that school will help you achieve your goals?  37% said yes

Some highlights:
I was surprised that such a high majority of my students felt I trusted them.  Possibly I have given them what they have never had before: a chance to use their device in the class, a chance to fail and then to try again.  Maybe.

I was pleased that the majority of my students felt I wanted the best for them.  With my teaching co-focus being attachment, having them know that I want the best for them is what the relationship is all about.

Don't think, however, that I have forgotten about those in the minority: those that feel that I don't trust them, those that don't think I want the best for them.  It's not great thinking that some students spend a whole year with me and feel that way.  There's always more work to do.

Their comments:
The most meaningful information from the survey, however, were the comments.  Here are a few of them:

What would cause you to trust your teacher more?

- connect with students more
- do more things (risks)
- if he trusted me more (said twice)
- not to over explain things
- more freedom to do things in class

And what could lead you to becoming more trustworthy?

- if I didn't get in trouble as much (said twice)
- if class were more fun (said twice)
- if you trusted me more

I believe, however, the most poignant answer was the one student who said: "I trust you.  You trust me."  How else can trust be built but by mutuality.  One party takes a risk with another.  It goes well and trust is built.  But trust can't grow one-sided.  Without the other party doing the same, trust plateaus.  So I am hoping to take some more risks next year, and open it up for my students to do the same.  A BYOT classroom without trust is just another computer lab.

On a side note, the fact that only 37% of my students trust that school will help them achieve their goals is not lost on me.  But that is for another post. . .

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