Thursday, October 15, 2009

On Trust Pt. 2

I've written about trust before. But it's a big topic, so I think I'll have another go at it. Let me start with an explanation of an honor system we use in my room.

It revolves around change.

Real change. Of the nickels, dimes, and quarters variety.

See, I'm the kind of guy who's always got a pocket full of coins. But I'm also lazy. So rather than roll up the coins and take 'em to the bank, I just let them build up in a big pile on my desk.

Enter the students.

The students in my audio production class know about the change pile. They also know that they are welcome to take change if they need it. And they know that they are welcome to leave their own change in the pile.

Started out with $2.29 in coins.

As of my count this morning, there's about $8.50 in the pile.

It's not always that much. Some days there's hardly anything there. The most I've seen was about ten bucks, mostly in quarters and nickels.

I think about this pile of change often. In fact, I see it as a sort of metaphor for the way I run the classroom. Because I know that, as the teacher, I am only the first pocket-full of change -- lint and all.

The students take over from there.

Sometimes they take too much, but more often they give back in proportion greater to my initial investment.

So it goes with social tech as well.

If you ban social tech, you'll never have to worry about losing your initial investment. But you'll never see it grow either.

There have certainly been days when the students took advantage of the pile of change; and there are certainly days that they took advantage of access to social media in ill-advised ways. But for each of those occasions, there have been so many more in which they've used social tech in ways that have increased that pile of coins and substantially increased the value of our investment.

Not bad for a bunch of kids.

I encourage you to try out the change experiment. It may surprise you to see just how much growth you earn with a little trust. All you need is the patience and the wit to resolve that even those bad days are part of the greater goal.


  1. I have a piggy bank on the desk in my classroom. I wish it were a color other than white, or that it didn't have a shape from one directly that looked quite so much like the lower torso of a nude woman, but hey... it's what I could find.

    Anyway, any time a kid swears, they put a coin in the treasury. And we donate the money each term to an account at

  2. I agree I presented at a conference about just using a wiki. Many asked what do you do with kids to keep them honest. Could not believe the reponse when I said that I simply trust. If you let ids now what you believe and you think they deserve, they will surprise you.

  3. I love this! It extends so far into education to, not just social media, but with open and student directed learning.

    I wonder if we can change the general mind set that focuses on the negative?


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