Trust is a complex topic, and this lesson begins to address the challenges of building and earning trust.


Begin to examine trust in your life.
Exploration of how trust is enhanced or diminished at school.
Create a fun mechanism to discuss a challenging topic.

Trust Thermometer

The Trust Thermometer is like a rating scale -- it provides a quick check of individuals and the group then leads to discussion. Discussion can focus on several areas from the way students chose to participate in the activity, to why some people are more trusting, to specific questions about how to increase trust in this group.

This activity will help shift from the somewhat abstract definition of trust to a more personal reflection. Later activities will explore trust in more depth. This is a subject matter where going to fast will usually backfire -- build trust in the group over time.


Have the group line up against one wall. For each situation, individuals take a few steps away from the wall. Zero steps (staying on the wall) means you feel no trust in the situation, three or four large steps indicates total or unconditional trust. After you have read a few examples, invite students to give new situations.

Example situations:

1). Your best friend asks to borrow $5.
2). You are at lunch in the cafeteria.
3). Your best friend wants to blindfold you and take you someplace.
4). A club from school wants to blindfold you and take you someplace.
5). Some friends ask you who you want to ask on a date.
6). Your teachers want you to go to a math/music/chess or similar competition.
7). Your coach wants you to try out for a sport.


What happened for you in this activity? What were some of your thoughts, feelings, and actions?

In what ways was this activity an accurate depiction of your level of trust?

What are the effects of competition at our school? How does competition affect trust?

What is it that your best friend does, or allows you to do, that makes you so comfortable with him/her?


People often talk about being trustworthy for others, what does it mean to be trustworthy for yourself?

Teacher to Teacher

You can teach this process to check if you feel trust. First, check your body: when you think of that person or situation, what is happening in your body? Are you fidgeting, tense, in pain? Second, check your heart: how do you feel emotionally? Are you happy and excited? Third, check you mind: what do you think rationally? Given what you think, is trust reasonable? Fourth, check your intuition: if you had to decide this second without thinking, would you trust? If all four say "yes," go for it! Otherwise, look into each one more carefully, and if any are a definite "no," then you do not feel trust.