Building Trust While Maintaining Order

By Amy Bertram, IPLI Mentor and Principal at Jimtown High School

This is my first year at my current school.  I was the building principal at a prior school for seven years, before I decided to make this move.  The timing was right, and I have loved getting to know a whole new community.

Here’s the thing though, whenever you step into a new position, you have to perform a balancing act of building trust with your staff and students while still maintaining order and safety.  This is a balancing act because any time there is a new principal, individuals try to see what they can “get away with.” How do you instill and enforce high expectations while still building trust?  By being clear, consistent, and following through.  

Brene Brown (2018) says, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”  She emphasizes that we must be clear about our expectations with staff and students.  Brown goes on to say not being clear about your expectations, yet holding individuals accountable is unkind.

Staff and students alike crave consistency.  They want to know procedures and routines will be followed, expectations will be monitored, and there will be follow through with those who fall short of the expectations.  This isn’t a “gotcha” situation – don’t look for individuals not following procedures or falling short on expectations. However, when presented with these instances, address the situation calmly, firmly and compassionately.

All any of us want to know is that someone is looking out for us.  We want to know that we are safe and cared for. So don’t be afraid to instill and maintain order, because that is the precursor to building trust.

Brown, B. (2018).  Clear is kind.  Unclear is unkind [Blog post].  Retrieved from https://brenebrown.com/blog/2018/10/15/clear-is-kind-unclear-is-unkind/