December 12, 2019
“Trust is like a mirror, you can fix it if it’s broken, but you will [always see the crack in its] reflection.” ―Lady Gaga
The special role of 21st CCLC professionals is to act as a center of gravity for the students you serve, bringing together the efforts of families, community partners and school-day educators in a positive and constructive way. Gimmicks, manipulation, and pretending to care don’t work in the long run, and you know that. You want to be the real deal.
Nothing could be more important than earning the authentic trust of your school, community and family partners, but life is full of people who are slow to trust.
Patience is essential to building trust. Trust can’t be rushed. Take the time you need to avoid serious missteps, which can be hard to correct, as Lady Gaga so poignantly observes. Even when time feels so preciously limited, it never hurts to take a beat before you speak or act.
Transparency is also key. Hiding “bad news” from partners has been debunked in personal as well as professional partnerships as ultimately damaging to building true trust. You demonstrate that you have faith in a partner when you honor that partner with the truth.
Remember that keeping your word, following through, and demonstrating that you value relationships are additional key elements to building trust. Y4Y’s Supporting and Engaging Families tool has ideas on when and how to achieve this with families. The Y4Y Partnering With Schools Rubric has insights on what a strong school relationship looks like, and the Partnership Evaluation Rubric in Y4Y’s new Strategic Partnerships course examines healthy elements with community partners. All of these tools can help you build trusting partnerships.
Also at the center of a trusting partnership is mutual understanding of goals. The Responsibility Checklist for Principal and Program Director is a helpful tool to maintaining a trusting partnership with your school-day counterparts. The Memorandum of Understanding Tool spells out considerations you’ll want to take into account at the beginning of a community partnership to maintain trust for the life of that relationship and beyond. Understanding Program Families and other Y4Y family engagement tools set the stage for open dialog on program expectations, illustrating that activity planning is a joint effort.
Finally, a critical practice in building trust is demonstrating that you appreciate the individuality of your partners — that they’re more than their roles. Here’s an example: When you take your child to Dr. Goodhealth, does the doctor call you by your name, or does she call you “mom” or “dad”? If Dr. Goodhealth refers to you only by your role, do you wonder if she leaves the room and refers to your child as “the GI bug in exam room three” instead of the one-and-only “Sarah”? Changing your practices with something as simple as calling students’ parents by their names and learning a little about them will demonstrate that you care about them for more than their role in your life or program, and thereby foster trust. Use the ideas in Y4Y’s Reaching Out to Families tool to help you connect. Also, be aware of the challenges your students’ families may be facing. Understanding and Overcoming Challenges to Family Engagement is a Y4Y tool that can broaden your awareness.
Just like that mirror, never forget that broken trust can and should be repaired.