As educators, we must recognize our students will start each school year with a range of feelings about their teachers. Most of these feelings will have little to do with their personal experience with you. Rather, they will be greatly influenced by their past experience with other educators and adults. The reality is whenever students don't trust us, we must spend considerable time and effort dealing with the symptoms of their distrust, including defiant or disrespectful behavior, instead of the underlying issue. We should be alert to subtle cues that a student is struggling to trust. Otherwise, a lack of trust that remains unnoticed, unaddressed, or ignored will continue to undermine the educational process. Whenever educators exhibit an understanding that not all students enter school feeling trust for educators, they view trust as another competency that must be nurtured and developed in our students. Relational trust is a foundation for learning, teaching, and leading, which allows individuals to connect to the school community. Without this essential trust, an educator's efforts will produce only temporary results. Bill Gates (2005) notes teachers can create a trusting environment by focusing on the three Rs: relationships, relevance, and rigor.
When educators model caring, respectful relationships over time their students are thereby allowed to build trust with them. Educators begin fostering relationships with their students by helping students find personal meaning and relevance in the course material. Educators can further build effective student relationships by maintaining high expectations, even when students are struggling, thus showing your belief that they have what it takes to be successful.