We know that resilience is by no means a new term to educators in Alberta. In June 2018, over 70 per cent of districts reported to the Alberta Healthy School Community Wellness Fund (AHSWCF) that professional learning opportunities were focused on student resiliency. Considering the complexity of school systems, fostering a resilient school community involves more than just teaching resiliency to students. Teachers and school staff should also be provided with opportunities to cultivate their own resilience and incorporate practical strategies into their classrooms.
Look at All Angles
Resilience is both the capacity of individuals to navigate their way to the psychological, social, cultural and physical resources that sustain their well-being and their capacity (individually and collectively) to negotiate for these resources to be provided in culturally meaningful ways. Author Elena Aguilar—founder and president of an international educational consulting group that supports educators to meet the needs of children—has written a book containing some poignant reminders for school employee wellness champions, Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators.
Aguilar acknowledges the complexity of the school community and suggests that in order to transform our schools’ individual resilience, organizational and systemic conditions must both be considered. She provides a framework on how to increase resilience, avoid burnout and help teachers and school staff rediscover their passion for teaching and the education sector. Each chapter of the book targets one month of the school year, working on one habit of resilience to be absorbed and applied over the course of the year and utilizing an accompanying workbook designed as a curriculum for professional learning.
Lift Each Other Up
It’s important to remember that resilience is not the silver bullet that will sweep away all the stresses and problems that educators and school staff encounter daily. You’re constantly challenged to ignite curiosity and growth in students, all while dealing with a wide variety of personality types and ability levels. Bolstering the resilience of staff allows them to draw boundaries around what they do and how they respond to stressful situations, affecting both their physical and emotional well-being. This ultimately helps you and your colleagues meet the challenges you encounter, learn from them and one another and recover (sometimes collectively) from unavoidable setbacks.
Shape it Your Own Way
See what tidbits of wisdom you can use both from Aguilar’s book and your colleagues to stock your resilience toolkit. Once you know what the recipe looks like for yourself, be sure to share with others (and in the comments below if you feel so inclined!) so that they may learn from your experiences!