As a Resilience Consultant, I meet with teachers and administrators to offer classroom support. We work directly together to create a healthy positive school environment. I also support teachers around how they’re affected or impacted professionally and/or personally.
Last year at Beechwood School, there was a devastating fire that destroyed one portable building, which included a 3rd grade classroom. This teacher was directly affected on a professional and personal level by the abrupt loss and quick adjustment that was required in order to begin class again the following week. The practical and physical recovery of her classroom space in starting out in a new room with limited supplies, to organizing lost learning materials, to supporting her students’ grieving process, to the more implicit and personal recovery process of her own in losing countless memories and teaching tools, was a process that ensued for the remainder of the year.
Recently, this teacher showed me an ongoing project that she had started doing with her class. I was in awe by her creative, meaningful, and impactful way to foster resilience in the classroom.
The Resilience Board she created is used to introduce terms such as “Resilient,” “Tenaciousness,” and “Be Gentle.” To help her students build a language of real life experience around abstract terms, she has them think about situations where they have personally used these skills. She then encourages them to share their reflections with the class.
By creating a safe place for learning and classroom exchange, students are given the chance to connect these concepts to their own lives in a way they can actually understand and relate to. It also helps them build empathy and resonate with their peers as they learn from one another.
For example, her class worked together on breaking down the barriers of having to get things right the first time. They shared their experiences and acknowledged in the end that it’s okay to make mistakes. This shifted the conversation from a “bad thing” to a much more positive understanding and acceptance.
She weaves in and shares her own personal and present examples where she made a mistake, which again offers great learning opportunity. She provides her students with the opportunity to witness an adult role model. An adult in front of them is sharing and acknowledge mistakes, too, and talking about her feelings. This helps further normalize mistakes and the ability to bounce back.
This project certainly connected to what she learned from her and her students’ experiences from last year. She mentioned that without the “behind the scenes” support that she received, she wouldn’t have been able to get to this point of using this past traumatic experience as a learning opportunity and a bridge for her students’ to learn from their mistakes, from negative things occurring, from persevering, and so on.
Fostering resilience in the classroom increases children’s social and academic competence and motivates them to be active learners. By creating daily opportunities for children to develop and practice resilience-related behaviors, we are equipping them with essential tools they can use to overcome any challenges they may face in the future.
What are ways that you foster resilience in your classroom?