Book Author: Julie Reed Kochanek (2005)
The text Building Trust for Better Schools Research-Based Practices (published by Corwin Press in 2005) intends to aid school practitioners in developing a better understanding of the importance of cultivating and maintaining trust among school stakeholders (i.e., administrators, teachers, students, and parents). According to the author, Professor Julie Reed Kochanek from Southern Oregon University, trust within schools is a "key resource in school reform" (p. XV). The level of trust within a school is "linked to increased participation among faculty in school reform efforts, greater openness to innovations among teachers, increased outreach to parents, and even higher academic productivity in a school" (p. XV). Namely, trust aids in creating a school culture that is focused on collaboration and a narrowed set of goals—which translates into a higher-quality learning environment for students.
Since the focus of Building Trust iis to better understand different ways to cultivate trust, the text presents a case study of four schools, from the Chicago Public School system, that display varying levels of trust. These case studies illustrate the experiences of schools operating at different levels of the trust spectrum. The purpose of discussing the experiences of a variety of schools is to provide the reader with a clearer picture of how schools operating in different contexts work to remove and mitigate barriers to cultivating trust (e.g., providing stakeholders opportunities to meaningfully interact, creating an environment that promotes positive interactions, and aligning actions and interactions to better support student achievement efforts).
The book is short, just seven chapters split across 111 pages. Some of the topics covered in the chapters are: the importance of trust, defining trust, creating a cohesive team, fostering positive communication, and "pursuing a strategic plan of action" (p. V). The book also presents two resources for practitioners to use to understand and measure trust within their schools. These resources are: 1) a tool to measure trust building, and 2) a summary of survey data on teacher-teacher, teacher-principal, and teacher-parent trust in the Chicago Public School system.
This text would be best suited for teachers and administrators looking for a text to supplement their school improvement work. However, since building trust is not an issue that exists exclusively in underperforming schools, this book would also be a valuable resource to all teachers and administrators looking to increase teacher buy-in and innovation.
Kochanek, Julie Reed. Building Trust for Better Schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press (2005).