Developing Trust With Learners

Matt Zalaznick, writing for District Administration, on the relationship between competency-based learning and 

Mastery trumps class time in competency-based education models now catching on in more U.S. classrooms—from New England to the Midwest to Alaska.
Students must show they grasp a concept fully before they can move on to the next unit. Those who get a low grade or score can’t advance until extra instruction by a teacher reveals that students demonstrate comprehension, says Susan Patrick, president of CEO of iNACOL.

Every teacher that is trying to make this shift knows how hard it is to fight the status quo, but they also know there are huge benefits to be gained. One often overlook benefit is increased trust between the teacher and the student. 

…the competency-based assessments seem more relevant to students because the content comes directly from the projects they work on in class every day, says Rob Scully, Souhegan High School principal.
“Our students are consciously sensing the continuity—the assessment is an outgrowth of the curriculum, not a vacuum or separate entity,” Scully says. “That coherence makes it very clear what content is going to be learned, and what skills are going to be developed and assessed. Students really value that.”

Students value the connection to the content, because it puts teachers in the role of partner instead of adversary. They stop having to convince the teacher to give them more points and can focus on their own learning. When they see the teacher is there to help, they develop a deeper trust that teachers can bank on.