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I Just Want Them to (Like) Trust Me

**The actual title of this post is “I Just Want Them to Like Trust Me” but that formatting doesn’t hold in the title bar.

One of the things I’ve discovered about teaching is how difficult it is to admit to myself that sometimes I just want my students to like me.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t been teaching very long. Maybe it’s that I’m younger and I’m insecure about wielding authority. Maybe it’s that I was an introverted, nerdy kid who hated public speaking. Maybe it’s that I don’t know what my teaching persona is yet. Maybe I don’t know teaching yet. Maybe it’s that I believe you have to like a person to trust them, and you need to trust a person to learn from/with them.

The concern, however, is not the want to be liked. It’s the decisions I make based off that want, the changes and considerations I entertain that would, if executed, probably make my students like me more, even trust me more. But will they be learning?

I want to say yes. Yes, because students discover what they need as learners when they trust you enough to question that. Since I’ve become more familiar (and comfortable) with my position at the front of the classroom, I’ve thought a lot about the relationship between students and teacher, the learning included in that relationship and how it extends beyond the classroom. It’s not just skills that transfer with the students, but the learning process as well. And that process is something we teachers are an active part of. We are learners here, too. But we must be able to trust our students enough to be transparent and tell them that we are learning in the classroom just as they are. We must trust them (and ourselves) not to lose faith in our instruction methods when we pilot a new or radical pedagogical move. From my experience, students reciprocate that trust and transparency. And when they trust, they learn to be intrinsically motivated because they gain confidence in themselves and in us. They also begin to understand how to actively voice what they need as learners.

Ultimately, isn’t the classroom a place to establish and develop a learning process for “real life,” whether you sit with your back to the whiteboard or facing it?

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