Building Trust

As I began reading Literacy Essentials by Regie Routman, I felt as though she were sitting in the room with me. Beginning the book with an entire chapter discussing trust and building relationships, I wondered how she knew what I needed to read at that moment. For me, this school year has been unlike any other. I began my eighteenth year of teaching as a reading specialist who couldn’t wait to begin co-teaching writing in first and fourth grade. And the students did not disappoint! Those two chunks of time in my day were by far my favorite parts.

Fast forward to the middle of December…I had my second hip surgery of the year in December and just like that, my job as a reading specialist and my excitement about writing was diminished. I began the long road to recovery and put my job on hold for almost five months! I returned to work in May and found just how much I had taken trusting relationships for granted. I walked back into a building that had not stopped while I was gone. Instead, things changed, people changed, and I had changed. It has not been an easy road to begin rebuilding relationships with staff and students.

I think that something I have learned through my experiences this year is that while trust can be destroyed in the blink of an eye, it takes much, much longer to build a trusting relationship. Regie states, “When we feel personally and professionally valued, we are apt to be happier, more productive, and more likely to take risks as teachers and learners” (p. 10). How true! Coming back into a culture where I had not been for so long made it feel like I was invisible to the staff for a while.

I love that Regie give some simple suggestions on ways to build relationships with all involved in the school community. And one of the biggest suggestions that stood out to me was kindness. Seem simple, right? I find myself saying, “Be kind!” in all aspects of my life but sometimes I think it is hard to take our own advice. Reading this first chapter made me rethink how I approached each day, and I truly tried to focus on the kindness that I could spread to others. From the simple hellos when seeing someone to asking about his or her day to giving a hug when it was needed!

I think one of my favorite ideas from this chapter has to do with passion. Find your passion and run with it. Help students find their passions and use that passion to guide them on the road to learning. One final thought…as I walked down the hall taking two students to my classroom, a third student chased me down the hall to ask if she could come with me today. Umm…of course! She actually wanted to come spend time reading and writing with me. What a wonderful reminder of the trusting relationship I have created with this student.

This post is part of a book study around Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners by Regie Routman (Stenhouse, 2018). Check out more resources associated with the text at this website (, including a free curriculum for teaching an undergraduate course using Literacy Essentials.

Author: booksonthebackporch

I am a wife, mom to two girls, a reading specialist, and avid reader and writer! I am excited to share my experiences and insights with all things books and writing.

9 thoughts on “Building Trust”

  1. Great reminders about the importance of trust! I love that you and Regie reminded of us the simple things we can do such as “be kind.” There’s so much power in making eye contact, smiling and saying hello as you pass someone in the hall. But that five seconds says “I care.” When someone cares, then you can begin to build trust. I think this is hard because we allow the business of our live to consume our thoughts, so as we walk down the hall, are minds aren’t on kindness it’s on the to-do list. It takes intentionality. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post! Thanks to the author of this blog for honestly sharing your personal journey in re-establishing trusting relationships with your colleagues. Not an easy journey and it takes sustained effort. You validate how important trusting relationships and kind actions are to our overall well being and risk taking in teaching and learning. Wishing you all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciated your heartfelt post on building trust and can relate on many levels. One comment taken the wrong way by a colleague, changes in administration, misunderstandings or differences in teaching philosophies…each has the potential to change trust in the blink of an eye. I agree that it’s difficult at times to take our own advice about being kind, but like you, find when I am truly intentionally about seekng out opportunities to be kind my whole outlook changes. Thanks for the reminder and for highlighting Regie’s suggestions for building those relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

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