Strategies for promoting resilience in the classroom are high on the agenda for many schools at the moment, due to the disruptions that students have faced and the increasing need to support mental health outcomes and wellbeing.
Children need support, strong relationships, and positive role models in all areas of their life, so promoting resilience in the classroom is a crucial element in the partnership that teachers and schools build with students and their families.
Resilience is the ability to cope with life’s challenges. It allows an individual to not just bounce back from negative experiences or disappointments, but to also reflect, adapt, learn and grow from them. Being resilient means you’re more likely to accept your failures, as well as your successes, look to the future with optimism and have a strong sense of self.
In children and adolescents, the some of the main attributes of resilience are:
Many consider resilience to be the antidote to mental health issues, particularly in young people.
The best way to promote resilience in the classroom is to foster positive relationships with and between your students, while modelling and teaching some simple social and emotional skills.
Children who learn to recognise, understand and describe their emotions and those of others, will be able to express themselves appropriately, manage negative feelings and better cope during stressful life events.
Positive teacher/student relationships enhance student wellbeing. To promote resilience, it’s important that teachers create a classroom environment that centres around student engagement and success. This can be achieved by:
Modelling optimism (a glass-half-full approach) can encourage initiative, creativity and the achievement of goals. As a teacher, you should:
A key part of promoting resilience is a shift from a deficit-based approach (fixing problem behaviours or areas of learning) to a strengths-based approach, which focuses on each student’s strengths, interests and positive qualities. This means:
Even as adults, working towards our goals can often feel overwhelming or impossible. It’s crucial that we make goals achievable for students to maintain motivation and encourage self-efficacy. A key element in this is also celebrating the journey as well as the final success.
Teach children to set reasonable goals and then to move toward them one step at a time. Moving toward that goal – even if it’s a tiny step – and receiving praise for the effort of doing so will focus a child on what he or she has accomplished rather than on what hasn’t been accomplished, and can help build the resilience to move forward in the face of challenges.
Break down large tasks or assignments into small, achievable goals for younger children, and for older children, acknowledge accomplishments on the way to larger goals
You can promote resilience in your classroom by modelling good social and emotional behaviours yourself. Here are some simple dos and don’ts to be aware of.
As a teacher, it’s important to acknowledge negative emotions and remind students that ups and downs are normal. Students who are experiencing challenges need the problem supported, not solved. You can do this by:
There are a range of resources that schools and classrooms can access to guide strategies for promoting resilience.
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