Demonstrating Openness and Honesty

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Teaching students openness and honesty provides the skills needed to take on new opportunities, behave with integrity, and build strong, trusting relationships. Openness—the quality of being receptive to new ideas and experiences—is correlated with higher levels of curiosity and increased comfort in new or unfamiliar situations. It is also associated positively with creativity and well-being (“Openness,” 2020).

Honesty—speaking the truth and acting truthfully—can help students communicate ideas sincerely and respectfully, set and recognize boundaries, and build strong relationships. By maintaining openness and honesty, and applying learned social-emotional skills, students and educators will be able to navigate this current situation of distance learning and stay-at-home rules in a positive, healthy manner.

Although being open to new ideas and speaking honestly can be uncomfortable or difficult, engaging in open and honest conversations is more rewarding and socially fulfilling than one might think (Jones, 2018). Honesty connects people more deeply, even when sharing potentially negative information or feedback, and allows space for more openness and a better understanding of what someone is feeling. As children and adults address the recent unprecedented changes in their daily lives, fostering openness and honesty is of critical importance in learning and in relationships. Using their social-emotional skills and encouraging openness and honesty can help students handle unforeseen changes and transitions with a sense of curiosity and ease, and create an honest environment that allows big emotions and anxieties to be named, validated, and properly managed.

Keep in mind the following to help students and families develop openness and honesty.

  • Make classrooms and homes “intellectual safe spaces,” that is, where all opinions are heard and respected. Allow children to practice speaking honestly and also to practice respectfully listening to all opinions, even those they may not agree with (Barbour, 2018).
  • Teach students to listen and repeat. Have them summarize what the other person says in their own words to show that they are actively listening and understand what was said.
  • Demonstrate open body lan-guage. Uncrossed arms, eye contact, and nonverbal af-firmations such as nodding your head show engagement and help facilitate open com-munication. Open body lan-guage also keeps students checked in, remain in the present, and actively listen to what the other person is saying (Gatens, 2020).

Using their social-emotional skills and encouraging openness and honesty can help students handle unforeseen changes and transitions with a sense of curiosity and ease.

Developing openness and honesty instills an intrinsic sense of integrity within students and provides them with the skills necessary to thrive in diverse, dynamic environments. Given the current circumstances in our daily lives, openness and honesty will allow students, their families, and educators to meet these challenges in a positive and healthy way.


  • Barbour, B. (2018, August 28). Guiding students to be open to new ideas. Edutopia. Retrieved March 20, 2020, from https://www.
  • Gatens, B. (2020). Openness to ideas, perspective and change yields trust in the classroom. Share to Learn. Retrieved April 24, 2020, from
  • Jones, S. M. (2018, September 21). People can afford to be more honest than they think. UChicago News. Retrieved March 20, 2020, from
  • Openness. (2020, March 20). Psychology Today. Retrieved March 20, 2020, from