What is resiliency?
When you first hear the words resilient or resiliency, you may think of a definition similar to the idea of withstanding or “bouncing back” from difficult decisions. This idea is often connected to the resilience of communities, plants, or even commercial products. I urge you to consider a new type of resiliency — individual resiliency.
When we look at resiliency through the lens of individuals, we are able to see a stark difference in our other ideas of resiliency. Many may consider the resiliency of communities to be derived from their “strength in numbers.” The natural world may be considered resilient because of the millions of years of evolution. Even commercial goods that boast about their resiliency do so because they were designed that way. As an individual, it can sometimes feel as though you cannot change your level of resiliency. This is simply not the case. Through practice, we can all improve our individual resiliency to trauma.
Why is it important for educators?
As educators, we are in a unique position when considering individual resiliency. We must not only be concerned with our own resiliency, but also that of our students. This responsibility reflects the notion that we are not simply focused on our content area, but instead must aim to prepare our students for life beyond the walls of our classroom.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter (1987)
Many students experience trauma. This is an unfortunate truth that we cannot afford to ignore. In an effort to improve the resiliency of our students so that they can better handle the stress and trauma in their lives, we must infuse resilient thinking into our daily education. Kristin Souers and Pete Hall dive into the idea of Fostering Resilient Learners in their book by the same name. Within this book, the two authors connect individual resiliency to the classroom and demonstrate the importance of relationship, belief, self-awareness, and grace.
What can I do?
Throughout their book, Souers and Hall concisely put forth various phrases or mantras to help with fostering individual resiliency within yourself and your students. Each of these phrases corresponds to a chapter of the book. Some of my favorites include:
- Forever Changed, Not Forever Damaged. (Chapter 11)
- Similar to the Maya Angelou quote included above, this reminds us to keep a growth-centered mindset in response to trauma.
- When in Doubt, Shut Your Mouth and Take a Breath. (Chapter 5)
- Sometimes the best thing to do is breathe instead of talk. There have been many times when breathing exercises have helped me to calm down.
- It’s OK to be Not-OK. (Chapter 12)
- This is likely one you’ve heard. There is often a stigma around asking for help from others or showing that you are not okay. Instead, we must remember that it is natural to be “Not-OK” sometimes.
If you want another way to measure your own resiliency so you can better foster resiliency in your students, check out this video by Psych2Go about 8 Things Resilient People Do:
Miami University || Class of 2023
College of Education Health and Society || Integrated Science Education Major