Over the years, I have encountered many, many classes for the first time, sometimes as many as 12 new groups of students in a year. While there are many important things to cover on the first day of class, I have come to believe one of the most important things is to build rapport and begin establishing trust with the students.
A Matter of Trust
Trust is the foundation of any human interaction. Some say today we are experiencing a decline in trust, but I think that Baroness Onora O’Neill rightly states that we are really facing a decline in trustworthiness.
Baroness O’Neill says that to rebuild trustworthiness, we have to show ourselves as competent, honest, and reliable.
One of the way I establish rapport with a new group of students is by highlighting my relevant experience (competence); opening up to their questions, even personal ones (honesty); and following through on what I say I will do, including ending the class on time (reliability). By doing this, I quickly begin establishing a tenuous trust that will be reinforced in the weeks ahead through a consistency of competence, honesty, and reliability.
No matter how trustworthy you consider yourself, there are always areas that need improvement. Which area have you focused on, perhaps to the exclusion of others? In which area do you need to spend more time and energy? What can you do today to strengthen – or reestablish – your trustworthiness?