Individuals who demonstrate resilient behaviors tend to be able to recognize and manage their personal perceptions and feelings, and are cognizant of their personal locus-of-control. They can perceive and understand feelings of others, understand that they matter to others, and also see that they can make a positive impact on the world. They tend to believe in themselves, reach out to others when required, and accept help from others. They insulate themselves from self-blame, and deprecating behavior, make peace with negative events, and live a healthy life. Meaning they eat well, get their rest, excercise, and accept change.
The tricky part is of course building environments that support and promote health living, engage minds, create places where these skills can develop and flourish, and where resilience thrives! Is it doable? Can we create healthy environments where it becomes the norm to develop resilience skills? I surely hope so, and with some specific strategies we can all be on our way to these types of schools!
Action Steps For All Educators, Parents, Students:
-Encourage the Development of Positive Attitudes: By connecting with students, and providing positive feedback, encouragement, connections, and communication we can elicit healthy responses. We can keep barriers from building that stifle growth, positive attitudes from developing, and connections with other people from propelling students forward.
-Increase Support Networks for All: Ensure that each person in the environment has someone to be with, talk to, chart with, share with, and create a culture where listening to others is a premium behavior that is rewarded, over and over again. How many times do we see students talk at each other without really listening? The skill of listening has been demonstrated to be a consummate winner in evolving our societies. Listen people, just listen!
-Encourage the Building of Trusting Relationships: By fostering mutual respect for each other as people first, whether the relationships is between students, students/teachers, parents/teachers, etc. It is imperative that we build a culture where each one recognizes that we are there because of the others that are present. An old South African saying, “I am because you are,” shared often by Bishop Desmond Tutu, means that I exist as part of your world, and we are in this together. Let’s build schools where we are all in this together!
-Increase Student Engagement: We must build schools and deliver instruction for the students we have, and in response to their needs. We must be flexible in our methods, styles, instruction, curriculum, performance, measurement of success, supports, and work to provide meaning to the learning that matters to our students. If we continue to treat students as they have always been treated, then why would we expect a different result? The time is ripe for change!
-Foster a Positive and Inclusive Ethos: Our students need to be connected and belong to their environments. Hence, we must work to ensure that each student not only feels a part of their school, but that they truly identify themselves as being part of the school. By including them in decisions, acting on their interests, celebrating their diversity and uniqueness, and authentically connecting with them first as people, than as supporters of their development we provide more opportunity for them to belong to, not just attend school.
-Enhance Extracurricular Activities: The days of after-school sports need to be modified in order to provide both #Access and #Equity to all students. During the day school clubs, technology, activities, sports, visual and performing arts, drama, (and the list goes on), must become a thing of the present to support our students with having opportunities to engage, connect with, and pick up a multitude of talents. Especially for our students who may be marginalized, and/or who cannot afford after-school activities, we must ensure that their opportunities are provided and enhanced!
-Make it #FUN at Every Level: Schools, school communities, classrooms, extra-curricular activities, staff meetings, must all have a component of fun! If not, then what is the purpose, really? As humans, we laugh, we giggle, we smirk, we guffaw, we snort, we are silly beings, and if we are not engaged and having fun, we generally look for something else to do. So why, not? Why not make it all fun? Why not take your class outside to hunt for moon rocks (ala Dave Burgess, “Teach Like a Pirate” guy? Why not bring some wild music into the classroom, and see how it livens up the place? Why knot? (The word knot was used to see if you were paying attention, and to make you laugh!)
-Develop Life Skills: Possibly through internships, service-learning, taking leadership roles in the classroom, or at school, or volunteering to help younger kids read, or by simply being a buddy to another student, there are ample ways to help students realize that their life skills matter, that they can have a positive impact on people in their worlds. As students develop it could become so easy to simply allow each one to believe that they are the most important child in the world, and if we work just a little bit, we can help them realize that they could in fact become the most important person in the world to another person who needs them. If we did, we sure would have some tremendously skills children on our hands.
Summing up: I do believe that as educators come to not only recognized the need for these types of supports, and that we collective begin to act on them to build the types of schools that are surely needed, we can positively change the world, one student, one classroom, one school at a time. And, if we really get to it, we can change our communities for the good that much faster!
Dr. Robert A. Martinez, AKA “Resiliency Guy” on Facebook, and @ResiliencyGuy on #twitter @twitter strives to support the ideas of Transformational Resilience #TR to all who come in his path! He co-moderates #Resiliencechat on Monday evenings on #Twitter at 7:00 PM PST. Join him in his quest to create schools where children can “Grow in Peace!” He is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District.