Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for School Reform

by Anthony S. Bryk and Barbara Schneider

The authors conducted a longitudinal study of 400 Chicago elementary schools engaged in improvement efforts, and found that relational or social trust played a central role in the success of such efforts.

The article explores the components of trust, including respectful social discourse, personal regard, competence, and perceptions of personal integrity. In schools with high levels of social trust, all parties understand one another's expectations and their own obligations, and the actions of principals, teachers, and parents validate those expectations. In the authors' study, schools with high levels of social trust were more likely to show improved student achievement.

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The following are guiding questions to consider when reading Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for School Reform

Byrk and Schneider discuss the social exchanges of schooling and how understanding the roles and obligations we each hold for ourselves and other help to shapes the concept of relational trust. In your building are you clear abut your own role, the role of the the teacher(s) with whom you work and others with in your building or program? What are your thoughts about this concept in building relational trust?

Byrk and Schneider explain the components or relational trust. Based on your experiences , would you agree with these components? What would you add?

The article shows the benefits of trust in terms of improved student learning. What would the benefit of high levels of trust be for your school? Your program? For the Students? For the parents? What steps would you suggest be taken to foster that trust?

The authors state that you can not achieve relational trust simply through a workshop, retreat, or form of sensitivity training, although these activities can help. Rather, schools build relational trust in day to day social exchanges. How do the issues of leadership, support, and reaching out , size, community, and association help to increase your trust in your work environment?

You may want to discuss these with a group within your school or go to the discussion board to post your comments and read other paraeducators' reflections on trust.


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