The Cycle of Mistrust

Trust.  An interesting concept—the cornerstone of a healthy marriage and good relationships with others, but yet is it present anywhere else in society? There seems to be a cycle of mistrust throughout all facets of communities, especially those who are in the people business- police officers, religious leaders, educators, administrators, salespeople, politicians, and realtors, just to name a few.  We say that education is relationship-driven, but how do we establish healthy relationships with people involved in education without trust?

While you read the following questions, try applying the definition of trust in each: “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”

1. Do teachers trust students to do their homework every night without having some kind of accountability?
I will be transparent and say I don’t. I’ve taught 17 years, and I have heard every excuse in the book. I need documentation from parents that the children actually worked at home.

2. Do teachers trust politicians to make the right decisions about education?
Hmm. So far in 2015, the state budget has cut more educational benefits, and it’s been proposed to change our entire academic schedule and erase Common Core standards from our state standards. No, I don’t trust them.

3. Do politicians trust teachers enough to elicit for their input about educational reform?
How many teachers have been contacted by the governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction about their input? I haven’t……

4. Do administrators trust teachers to create quality professional developments and maintain their pursuit for leadership?
Let’s just be brief. No. It’s ridiculous when a random professional development emerges from thin air to “keep the teachers busy.”

5. Do students trust teachers to be culturally responsive with their teaching?
Do you currently believe that the majority of Caucasian teachers can relate to the identity of those with multicultural backgrounds? I’m not talking about respect or honor, but truly understand their culture’s values and beliefs enough to embed it throughout their classroom management and curriculum?

6. Do parents trust teachers to know what is best for their children in the classroom?
If you could see my emails and hear the phone calls I get from parents about my decisions in the classroom….. you would say NO.

If trust is so important to developing a long-last relationship, and relationships are crucial to motivating students to learn, how much longer do we have in this current cycle of mistrust before the educational system implodes?  The more each party of the educational system points a finger at another and plays the blame game when it comes to mistrust, the more dysfunctional we are as a team.  Maybe it’s time to look at educational reform with a psychological lens.  We can only improve ourselves and establish our trustworthiness before the system can be repaired.

It’s time to look at the definition of trust and internalize each element of it to improve our appearance of trustworthiness: reliability, truth, ability, and strength. How do we show our reliability to our colleagues, truth to the students, ability to our parents, and strength to our politicians?


Lisa Moberg

Lisa Moberg

El Mirage, AZ

Adventure is my middle name. Although I have never sought it out, it somehow finds me, especially in teaching!! These past 16 years of my teaching career have been an exciting voyage in education, stretched between two different states, three school districts, and six grade levels (Kindergarten – 5th grade). After teaching in Washington State for six years, I moved to Arizona and have taught at a Title 1 school in the West Valley for ten years.

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