Articulating the why of our work builds trust, respect and positive relationships.
By Michael Salvatori, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman
What is the privilege of self-regulation? Why are public awareness and understanding so important? Good questions. The answers vary according to one’s experience, role and opportunity for learning. For example, my first awareness of a regulatory body came from collecting the mail at the end of our family driveway in rural Grey County and glancing at correspondence from the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) addressed to my mother, a nurse. I admit I had little interest in any dinner conversation about the CNO newsletters or professional updates because it wasn’t relevant to me at the time. That’s changed.
Regulating in the public interest requires awareness, engagement and support from members and the public. Several years ago, the College developed a multi-faceted initiative to communicate its role and responsibilities to parents and community members. Favourable public awareness surveys and focus group feedback in the past two years reflect the gains. But there is much to do.
Start with Why author Simon Sinek offers some direction in urging us to move away from explaining what we do to focus on why we do it. In my College role, the shift from “what” to “why” goes from setting standards, certification, program accreditation and investigations to inspiring confidence, ensuring student welfare and earning public trust.
Trust, one of the College’s ethical standards, is a cornerstone of public confidence in teaching. We establish and maintain trust by exercising our regulatory responsibilities, but communicating why we set ethical standards and high requirements for certification likely has a more profound impact on the trust the public rightly places in the profession.
When someone asks why you are a teacher, a principal or a supervisory officer, might your reasons include “contributing to student well-being and potential” or “helping them to find their place as contributors to our civil society”? Articulating the why of our work builds trust, demonstrates respect and enhances relationships with students, parents and the community.
I chose this profession and I welcome any opportunity to explain why, particularly if it sparks meaningful dialogue about the impact and influence of teaching. I hope you do too.