Reviewed by Laura Von Staden
The High-Trust Classroom is a must read for all teachers who want to continue to improve their effectiveness. Lonnie Moore is currently a training consultant for Franklin Covey and was a contributor to the “Leader in Me School Improvement” process, after having served as a teacher at the middle and high school level.
In this book he effectively ties together his classroom experience, the ideas of Covey (7 Habits, 8th Habit, Principle-Centered, etc.) and recent research in teacher effectiveness from a number of other sources, to produce a step-by-step guide for teachers to use to become the best teachers they can be.
Moore begins by making the argument that the one thing that will never change in education is the need for a great teacher. He further argues that great teachers tend to have the qualities, outlined in this book, which create high trust classrooms and schools.
Data shows, according to Moore, that high trust schools experience three times the academic student success as measured by test scores. Most importantly, high trust classrooms allow great teachers to help students unleash their full potential.
25 qualities, in order
Following the introduction outlining the reasons a high trust classroom works, the book next takes the reader through a self-evaluation and mission setting process. After all, if you don’t know your current strengths and weaknesses (where you are now) and your final destination (your mission), it is hard to chart a path to successfully achieve your goals, and experience a happier more fulfilled life and career.
The 25 qualities outlined in the book are divided into 5 levels, each of which is a prerequisite for the next:
Level 1: Personal Alignment
Level 2: Professional Alignment
Level 3: Classroom Systems
Level 4: Inviting Classroom Culture
Level 5: Winning Student Trust
Each level is a chapter, starting with an introduction to the group of qualities that fall within the level, how they are connected, and why they go together. The chapter then devotes 3-4 pages to each of the qualities, a concise quick reference that is easily returned to and that includes a brief, specific description of the quality.
Also included in each chapter/level : a “teachers who rate high on this quality tend to . . .” section; a “teachers who rate low on this quality tend to . . .” section; and a “to improve your rating on this quality” section. Each level concludes with a set of reflective questions to help teachers create and implement their action plan as they move toward a high trust classroom.
Importantly, the book discusses, and in fact places in the first level, the importance of our personal lives being in balance for us to be most effective in our classes. Far too often, in our quest to be the best educators we can and to help the greatest number of students to the greatest degree possible, we lose sight of the idea that we must take care of ourselves if we are going to be able to be of service to others.
A book to return to
While I missed the first edition, this second edition is packed with worthwhile information from the front matter through the note to administrators at the end of the book. It is a quick read, broken into easy short chunks for each of the 25 qualities, with lots of references to research data to support the need for the particular quality. There are also resources to access if you want to make a deeper dive into learning more about or improving your skills in any one of the qualities.
This is the type of book that you read and highlight, and then go back to over and over as you start the true work of implementation of its steps, which (if you are like me) will be a continuous endeavor.
Definitely a great read and step-by-step guide to personal and professional fulfillment. You don’t want to miss this one.
Dr. Laura Von Staden is a Middle School Special Education Lead Teacher in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees both at her school and within her district and works closely with the local university where she is a Professional Practice Partner and master mentor. Dr. Von Staden also facilitates both online and face-to-face Professional Development for her school district.