8 Ways to Spread Teacher Resilience Like Wildfire

by | Oct 22, 2018

This mega-article from Joy in Teaching gives you the tools you need to help you spread teacher resilience throughout the school and ignite your staff’s motivation. With each of the 8 ways given you will see links to multiple other articles that support this strategy. Get ready to deep dive into what it takes to facilitate a supported and resilient school full of engaged and happy teachers.

1. Stay Connected

Think of who you choose to spend the most time with, who you share with and give your time and energy to. Are they, as they say in elementary school, filling your bucket? We all know the teacher(s) in school who can’t find anything positive about their position or their students – who will complain to any willing ear – but that ear doesn’t have to be yours. A positive network of support around you can help tasks be less taxing so you have energy left over at the end of the day.

We know the power of relationship building for our students and classroom communities/culture – the same benefits hold true in building relationships amongst teachers and staff.

How can you be the positive influencer in your school? Or, how can you help those who have difficulty finding the positive side of things? Consider creating opportunities for productive sharing and build relationships with your staff. Take time to focus on growth and fun – the rest will come, but empowering a staff to be supportive of one another is a key step in facilitating a community of resilience.

To read more about developing meaningful connections and a positive community in your school check out these articles:
Community Within Community – Build Your Dream School Culture
Where’s The Love? Culture, Connections, and Social Media in Education
Or stay connected with like-minded educators by joining the Joy in Teaching Facebook Group

2. Be A Life-Long Learner

Remaining a life-long learner and seeing yourself as someone who is continually growing in their field can be a powerful resiliency skill. The reasons for this are two-fold.

One, you are constantly learning new things, thirsty for new knowledge. Picking up new methods and ideas for teaching keeps your profession fresh and your perspective positive toward your ability and skill in the classroom.

And two, you see yourself of someone who has more to offer your profession. You can share your knowledge and skills and bring colleagues along with your quest for knowledge through group work, book studies, PLC’s & PLN’s.

Check out these articles to read more about using life-long learning as a resiliency skill
What’s All This About Teacher Resilience? And Why It Should Be A Priority in Every Single School
How to DIY Your Professional Development (for when you have to)
And check out the book, Joy in Teaching: A Research-Based Framework of Action for Educators and see discount rates here for schools and districts.

3. Share & Celebrate Successes

Authentic sharing can build resiliency by opening up lines of communication for when things get tough. It builds culture and camaraderie. And by focusing on the successes it promotes a positive community wherein each member is looking for what is working and working toward making strides in progress.

The key is authenticity.

Putting teachers on the spot or singling them out will not improve morale or encourage future sharing. Instead, seek moments when teachers can have the time and space to reflect and then share at will their successes. This gives teachers the opportunity to be authentic in their sharing and for their colleagues to see and grow from learning about each other.

Check out these articles to read more about using sharing as a resiliency strategy
The Message Every Teacher Needs To Start This School Year
Why Being A Teacher Is The Best (and Worst) Job Ever

4. Keep It Profesional

Even when the days are long and seemingly thankless.
Even when teaching seems to have thrown everything it has at you.
Even when __fill in the blank___ has got you questioning your purpose and effectiveness as an educator.
Stay professional.

Professional doesn’t have to mean neutral, but what it does mean is that you don’t vent publicly. You don’t give up midday. You don’t stop doing what do.

Just like how you dress and present yourself can impact your mood and other’s response to you- they way you act and react can impact how you feel. Some may call this “fake it ’til you make it”, but I consider it always leading with your best foot forward.

Read more about professionalism in these articles:
What the Business World Figured Out Before Education Did
How to NOT Burnout from the Start

5. Promote Self-care

Self-care is important. It’s not selfish to place yourself as a priority, it’s a necessity. Because you are no good to your students if you let yourself burn out. But it’s not just you in the trenches (I mean classroom) day in and day out and if the expectation and culture of your school is to always be working, well, then it’s hard to develop that community of support.

There is a reason you are told to put the oxygen mask on yourself first in the case of an emergency in an airplane. It’s because you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first.

Encouraging teachers and staff to take care of themselves first, to make time for their families and their own lives is a rare but effective resilience building strategy that can truly fortify the community and culture of a school.

Keep reading about culture building strategies and self-care by checking out these related articles:
Decoding Teacher Resilience- A Breakdown of Terms & Phrases
3 Myths About Teacher Burnout And Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them

6. See Yourself As A Change-maker

Just knowing that you can take action can make a difference in teacher stress. Hope for the future is a common trait in teacher resilience building.  Recognizing which habits are counterproductive to happiness and job satisfaction and shifting our mindset to focus on the positive, positions us, as educators, to take action.

It’s cyclical. Lack of ability to take action can lead to burnout and burnout leads to a lack of ability to take action.

When teachers don’t see where they can effect change or better their situation they lose hope and burnout begins to creep in. Once teachers reach the burnout stage, it becomes more difficult to recognize paths toward resilience and change. So focus on ways that you and your colleagues can improve your situation and create change within your circumstances.

To find out more about how being a changemaker within your school and field check out these related articles:
Are We at a Tipping Point in Education?
Cut the Back-to-School Teacher Stress
Also, there is MUCH MORE actionable step in the Joy in Teaching book and corresponding workbook

7. Maintain Perspective

Dealing with stress when all you can see is stressors around you begins a cycle. Negativity breeds negativity, it spirals, and so does positivity.

Give yourself permission to be upset when need be, but always try to refocus your perspective toward the positive.  Self-care (as mentioned earlier) can do wonders in helping to retain perspective – as well as having a strong support network to talk things out and share.

Check out these related articles from Joy in Teaching:
Refresh Your Perspective on Teaching for a New Start
No One Enters Teaching for the Money and Other Things We Say to Make Ourselves Feel Better
How to NOT Burnout From The Start

8. Explicitly Teach Resilience

The entire ecosystem of a school (or district) can be impacted by simply giving teachers a voice, providing them the knowledge and tools to develop resiliency in their careers. Consistent professional development, not just a one-time mention in passing, offers teachers an opportunity to rewrite their story and reframe their perspective toward becoming a more resilient educator. Remember time, space, and motivation – these are the ingredients for a successful resilience program. And, they are what you need to reclaim your joy in teaching.

Finding a teacher resilience program or training – such as described in the Joy in Teaching books and PD is a great place to start, but any method of providing teachers the support they need to thrive within today’s world of education will be a benefit to staff, students, and school.

Check out these related articles about teacher resilience:
How to DIY Your Professional Development (for when you have to)
Past, Present, & Future – A Reflection & Projection of Teacher Resilience

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