An educator’s emotional state has an impact on student wellness and classroom climate. It seems obvious that if teachers are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, burnt out and/or under-appreciated, it will show up in the classroom unless attention is paid to those factors that enhance resilience. With all the challenges facing educators today, it is no wonder that they will, at some time during their careers, experience some degree of stress and burnout. Here are some activities and tips that can help from Teachers on Target.com along with the following information.
Take this online Resilience Test and assess how resilient you are.
Consider your results and think about which of the following 10 Tips for Building Resiliency (from The Road to Resilience, American Psychological Association) would be useful for you to focus on and improve your own resiliency
- Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations or other local groups, provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need can also benefit the helper.
- Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.
- Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
- Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”
- Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, as well as a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
- Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
- Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
- Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope. The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.
A research study, discussed in the above mentioned article, investigated strategies teachers used in urban schools to build their personal resilience and found (in summary) that resilient teachers:
- Have personal values that guide their decision-making. They often feel they were “called” to this profession and a commitment to social justice keeps them in the classroom. (Interestingly, in response to questions on values, many teachers volunteered reflections on the importance of their spiritual beliefs and faith.)
- Place a high value on professional development and actively seek it out.
- Mentor others.
- Take charge and solve problems.
- Stay focused on children and their learning.
- Do whatever it takes to help children be successful.
- Have friends and colleagues who support their work emotionally and intellectually.
- Are not wedded to one best way of teaching and are interested in exploring new ideas.
- Know when to get involved and when to let go.
- Games and Exercises – for improving self regulation in children
- The Toolbox – a website aimed at improving the well-being of young people. It contains a wide selection of apps endorsed by health professionals and young people, to ensure each app is credible and engaging.
- Resilience and Strengthening Resilience in Individuals by Derek Mowbray
- myCompass – a personalized self-help program that can be used on mobile phone, computer or tablet. A tool kit of strategies for learning new ways to deal with thoughts, feelings and behaviours that cause you problems
- Mental Fitness Tips – Canadian Mental Health Association