Want to Start Your Year Right? Build Trust
Group [ groop ] noun
- 1. A collection of assemblage of persons or things
Process [ pros-es ] verb
- 1. To prepare by some particular set of actions
Group Process [ groop pros-es ] verb
- 1. Getting your council ready for a great year
- 2. See: encouraging (v), challenging (v), wildly rewarding (v)
The beginning of a new school year brings with it much promise; new starts, new students, new grades, and new possibilities. As September arrives and the first bell rings, the thought of all that needs to be accomplished can be daunting. And while there are so many factors that impact how the year will go, there are only a few that are within your control. One of the most important of these is how prepared your council is to work, strive, and achieve.
In other words, the strength of their group process.
Of the ten WASC Standards & Benchmarks, Group Process is one that focuses on both Common Core areas of teamwork and trust. So often when working with students, we emphasize the teamwork aspect and evaluate that related to the outcome. How well did students communicate? Did they listen to input from all group members? Did the completed project meet the rubric? These are all easily quantified or observed, and the skills supporting them easily taught. But the key to truly effective group process can be found not in teamwork but rather trust.
Trust is vital to working with students. It creates psychological safety, creates meaningful learning environments, and fosters risk-taking and genuine interactions. Yet unlike the listening skills and rubric-evaluated outcome from teamwork, trust is harder to measure. The great news is that trust can be built with students even before the year begins. As a student leadership organization, we use myriad activities as part of our programs to help students build trust. Some of the most effective activities include:
- Boundary breaking
- Alphabet game
- Human knot
- Trust walk/blindfolded activity
- Rain gutter golf
You can find more WASC resources for team and trust building here.
Teamwork and trust. These two seemingly obvious components of an effective council require intentional effort and designed skill building. I encourage you all to be deliberate in your efforts to build trust among your students at the beginning of the year. The positive rewards that you will enjoy for the next 9 months will far outweigh the cost of time or awkwardness.
May you have an outstanding start to your year and may it be filled with incredible levels of teamwork and trust (i.e. group process)!