While every student arrives at Proctor with a unique background, each hopefully receives a similar reception; one of welcoming individual learning styles into a highly diverse, challenging educational environment. For many students, the transition into classes and life at Proctor is seamless, for others it can be a longer process.
When polling the senior class, there is little doubt students feel they have connected to peers and teachers during their time at Proctor. In this week's two posts, I want to explore what I believe is at the foundation of this connection: trust. A trust based on a knowledge that each teacher is looking out for your best interest as a student, and trust based on a knowledge that your peers will allow you to travel along your own individual educational journey. This study
highlighted in the Global Journal of Management and Business Research clearly links trust and learning in relation to an organization's innovation and growth. While Proctor's objectives are far from that of a global business, the research connecting trust and learning are directly applicable to our aims.
The authors of the study write, "Learning and trust behavior lead to a high level of joint problem solving, which in turn influence innovation performance." Chuck Will highlighted what "Schools of the Future"
will look like in his blog last week, noting many of Proctor's qualities are those that experts believe will be sought after in the future.
One of the main points made in the article Chuck wrote last week was that the future of education will be focused on student centered learning. Much like any organization, when collaborative learning at all levels occurs, greater organizational learning and innovation take place. This is all fine and good, but take yourself back to your days as a student. Did you trust yourself to guide your own learning? More importantly, did your teachers trust you to guide your own learning?
This is where the rubber meets the road for educational institutions. We can read the most recent research and whole-heartedly agree with its application to our lives as educators, but are we willing to take that next step? Are we willing to trust our students and let go of the reigns? Are we willing to put aside our egos, as teachers, and truly embrace the curiosity, creativity, and passions of our students?
Working alongside Adam Jones and Lynne Kenney in the Social Science Department has encouraged me to increasingly trust my students. Adam's Psychology class
in large part chooses its curriculum for the term, identifying which topics they want to explore in depth at the start of the term and dictating the direction the course will take based on their passions. Over the next few weeks, Lynne's Social Activism students are learning first hand the challenges of planning and executing an awareness activity for the school community. Has every project gone perfectly? No. Have students learned to work together to overcome the real challenges before them? Absolutely.
Over the past week my students, in small groups, have planned and taught forty-five minute lessons for their peers. While I was a bit nervous at the start of this project, I have been blown away by the lessons my students prepared and delivered. A recent student spotlight
highlighted the amazing work that can be produced when students are given freedom to explore their passions, while at the same time provided considerable direction in their pursuit of that knowledge.
Trust is a complex thing because it does not just occur. It must be built over time. Yet it can be broken in an instant. Thursday's post will look at how Proctor's curriculum is designed to build a lasting trust with students.