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Building Student Trust Transforms Learning

The best learning is going to happen where the students have the greatest trust in their teachers. Nathan is a great example.
Teacher and student who trust each other

A good student doesn’t shy away from challenging work. Learning, after all, is about venturing into uncharted territory, where the ice beneath our feet feels thin. What if we stumble? What if we fail? What if our mistakes become embarrassingly public? These questions accompany every learning journey. But the best learning occurs when students trust their teachers implicitly.

Enter my friend Nathan, who specializes in working with learning-disabled children. His guiding principle is straightforward: when a child isn’t learning effectively, it often stems from psychological or environmental trust issues—problems that can be addressed.

Take Avi, for instance. The doctor’s dyslexia diagnosis had painted a bleak picture: Avi would never read. But Nathan rebelled against such predictions. Three months later, Avi sat across from Nathan, reading aloud a news story. Nathan, feigning skepticism, asked, “How did you do that?” Avi’s indignant response was clear: “I can read!” Nathan celebrated this quiet victory. Fast forward another three months, and Avi now reads at a level two grades above his peers, proficiently in two languages.

Then there’s David, perpetually hidden beneath his hoodie—whether the weather was hot or cold. David never uttered a word in class. Nathan sensed that David needed space, so he patiently waited. Gradually, David began to participate, testing the waters of interaction with classmates and teachers. The hoodie vanished, and David now leads Hangman games on the classroom whiteboard.

The school noticed the transformation. Students who once skipped classes now prioritized “Mr. Nathan’s” sessions. It wasn’t magic; it was trust being built—one student at a time.


Stephen L. Chew’s Insights on Student Trust

In his research, Stephen L. Chew, PhD, defines student trust in teachers as a willingness to embrace vulnerability and tackle challenging work. Trust hinges on three crucial components:

  1. Competence: Teachers possess both disciplinary knowledge and effective teaching skills.
  2. Integrity: Teachers are truthful, conscientious, and treat students with respect.
  3. Beneficence: Teachers actively promote student learning and development.

Remember, trust isn’t mere rapport; it’s a foundation for growth. While rapport makes teachers approachable, trust ensures competence and genuine care. Students may find a professor intimidating yet still trust their reliability. Trust—the invisible bridge that transforms learning. 🌟

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B. Berger

Truth Grows

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