Community starts with building relational trust
Building community is one of the top three reasons why educators bring Youth Frontiers in to work with their students. In fact, 83 percent of educators reported that is why they partner with us.
Is it surprising in today’s divided world that educators need support in building respectful, civil communities? And not only do they need support in building community among their students, but more and more superintendents and district leaders need support in fostering trusting communities for their staffs.
Research shows that providing time for collaboration is one of the top five ways to retain teachers. Teachers don’t want to be islands in their classrooms. They, like all of us, want to feel a sense of belonging to a community that values their contributions to educating young people. They want to share best practices and they want to truly know their colleagues, not just professionally, but also personally.
Building community starts with building relational trust. Bryk and Schneider’s 2003 research showed that, “the quality of social relationships … strongly predicts positive student outcomes.”1At Youth Frontiers, we are innovating and creating new programs to better support districts in building healthy, supportive communities for educators — communities that ultimately make our schools better for our children and grandchildren. Our programs are focused on critical junctures for educators:
Onboarding: In their first 90 days, this five-part series provides new staff with support and connection.
Engagement: In their third, fourth or fifth years, this four-part series helps inspire educators to stay in the teaching profession.
Leadership: This three-part series helps principals, superintendents, district administrators and emerging leaders lead with humility, presence and courage.
This innovation couldn’t have happened without the communities that supported our efforts over the last three years, and I want to express my gratitude: to the donors who seeded this innovation; to the Board of Directors for expanding our mission to better serve the people who educate our youth; to the school districts who allowed us to pilot these new programs last year; and to the school districts who are bringing us in this year.
On August 2, we worked with all of the Minneapolis Public School principals on our Honor Retreat. One of the principals who attended said, “The most meaningful part of today’s retreat was listening to my colleague’s stories and getting to know them more deeply.” Too many principals (and other leaders) are too isolated. We aim to change that.
By working with educators, parents and community leaders — those at the forefront of turning today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders — we believe character can and must be inspired. For there is no more powerful change agent in making our world a kinder, more civil and respectful place to live than the character of our youth.
Written by Joe Cavanaugh, Founder & CEO of Youth Frontiers
1Bryk and Schneider, “Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for Improvement.”
Learn more about relational trust.
This year, on The Character Movement, we are trying something new. We’ll be delving into one of our retreat values each month, examining it on our blog and in our Character Challenges. This month’s theme is community.