• Aubrey Patterson

Trust: The Essential Ingredient in Every Menu Item

Menus are a simple way of offering clarity in an a la carte menu of professional learning supports.

Restaurants generally take pride in their attractive menus and frequently display celebrity photos and positive reviews; such items build credibility and when teamed with word of mouth, patrons enter the restaurant eagerly, with positive anticipation and perhaps even excitement. Like menus in a restaurant that guide a patron in making informed selections, creating a positive experience to build a customer base, so are learning menus in the school setting.

Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash

Teachers might be prepared to ask better questions if the coach has already gained both trust and respect based on the coach’s credibility. Menus and an enthusiastic endorsement by the administrative staff could empower the coach, answering those questions teachers rarely ask yet want to know: What are the coach’s strengths? What is the coach’s background? Why should I trust the coach’s perspective?

Trust Opens the Menu

Trust is the glue that binds a school or community together. However, it is imperative that we understand that sometimes that glue might need reactivating. We should build enough trust in a school that we can burn it down every day, and still be able to start the next day better than where we were the day before.

Relational trust relies on all stakeholders developing a shared vision of where we hope to be. A culture of trust is needed for menus to effectively support high levels of professional engagement:

  1. Predictability allows teachers to know which moves are safe.

  2. Reliability allows professionals to give space and take space with confidence.

  3. Vulnerability allows collective efficacy to grow and learn with each other and utter those four words that are so often difficult to say: I need some help.

What will you be having?

When diners examine a menu, they often come looking for favorite signature dishes, but are also exposed to new, creative selections to try. The menu itself has the power to entice an individual to venture into unknown territory and try something new. The power of communication and trust can bring about powerful change and broaden a person’s horizons.

Menus are predictable and reliable professional learning supports. They offer the means for a teacher to ask for help without any negative stigma. When teachers take risks, they make themselves vulnerable; these risks and professional learning are intertwined.

Deep consideration of a menu is more likely to become reality when trust is strong and the resources are there to build something better. Communication is key.

It is only then that teachers are willing to try anything on the menu.


Jennifer Farmer:

Abigail French:

Matt Foster

Erika Garcia

Lori Harvie

Marci Houseman

Cris Saldaña

Tom Spall

Lane Walker


Canada ~ Lloydminster ~ Alberta

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