To me, building trust stands in opposition to control. When I first started teaching there was a big emphasis on classroom management and control which never felt just right, and now as I reflect on my experience and learning from this book, I realize that at the root of a well-run class is trusting relationships among all members of the learning community including educators, students, administrators, family members, and the community.
Hammond reminds us to focus on the quality of relationships with students, and when those relationships are strong and trusting, children more readily connect to others and learn. So rather than trying to manage or control students which often results in the opposite of the warm, caring learning community you work to build, focus on building positive, trusting relationships with all members of the learning community, relationships that exemplify affirmation, mutual respect, and validation.
As I think of this chapter, I think of what we do to build these positive relationships already:
- Positive introductory meetings
- A virtual classroom website that lets students, families, and colleagues know about all that we hope to do
- An open invitation for learning community members to write to us to share information, ask questions, and make suggestions
- Ready response to learning community members
- Invitations to learning community members to get involved in curriculum planning, revision, and reflection
- Eliciting the opinions, ideas, needs, and interest of learning community members
- Spending time talking about culture, our personal histories, and current interests and experiences
- Time for play and getting to know one another
- Multiple choices with regard to curriculum projects and activities--lots of open ended projects that students can personalize in process, content, and result
As we begin the year, I want to emphasize that our work with the learning team members is a partnership of mutual respect, interest, and trust. I want to acknowledge to students that the better we create a community of care together, the more able each and everyone of us will be when it comes to teaching, learning and having a successful year. Then we'll discuss what a community care looks like and what happens in that community. We'll make lists to guide our community building and learning. Then we'll revisit those lists regularly.