Authenticity, Boundaries, and Resilience

by | Aug 21, 2023

Authenticity, Boundaries, and Resilience

As the new academic year unfolds, educators across the globe are gearing up to embark on a journey filled with possibilities, growth, and the inherent joys of teaching. It’s important that educators enter into this new year with firm but cautious steps, remembering to be mindful of toxic positivity, to establish clear boundaries, and to cultivate resilience practices. A perspective with an eye toward setting ourselves up to not only succeed, but thrive this year can make a big difference in getting this school year kicked off on the right note.

Recognizing Toxic Positivity: A Balancing Act

Toxic positivity, I have a whole article on it here and also some more here, can inadvertently harm educators and their teaching environment. While optimism is undoubtedly a powerful tool, embracing a range of emotions, including frustration, stress, and even moments of doubt, is equally crucial for growth. Researchers have highlighted the detrimental effects of suppressing negative emotions, as they can lead to burnout and emotional exhaustion among teachers (Grandey et al., 2005). Acknowledging and addressing challenges, rather than merely brushing them aside, paves the way for meaningful personal and professional development.

Joy in Teaching

As the academic year begins, schools and districts should encourage open dialogue about emotions in the classroom. By fostering a safe space where students and teachers alike can express their feelings authentically, educators create an environment conducive to empathy, understanding, and connection (Eddy et al., 2016).

Setting Boundaries: A Foundation for Success

In the fast-paced world of education, establishing clear boundaries is vital to maintaining a healthy work-life balance, if that even exists. Research has indicated that teachers who set well-defined boundaries experience reduced stress and an improved sense of well-being (Totterdell et al., 1998). These boundaries can encompass a variety of aspects, including designated work hours, response times to emails, and personal time for self-care.

Essentialism in Education

By communicating these boundaries effectively to both students and colleagues, teachers create a culture of respect and understanding. Additionally, these boundaries can help prevent burnout, enabling educators to maintain their enthusiasm and energy throughout the year (Sutherland et al., 2019). It’s important to note the role of school climate and once again, the development of a safe and supportive work enviroment in the ability to establish these boundaries.

Cultivating Resilience: Weathering the Storms

Resilience, often regarded as the ability to adapt and recover from setbacks, is an essential trait for educators. The demands of teaching can be taxing, but by cultivating resilience practices, teachers can navigate challenges with grace and poise. Research has shown that incorporating mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, can significantly enhance educators’ well-being and ability to manage stress (Krasner et al., 2009).

Furthermore, fostering a strong support network, both within the school community and beyond, can contribute to greater resilience. Collaborative environments where teachers share experiences, strategies, and encouragement foster a sense of camaraderie that bolsters emotional strength (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009).

A New School Year

As educators embark on a new academic year, it is crucial to approach the journey with a balanced perspective that embraces both positivity and authenticity. By acknowledging and addressing toxic positivity, setting clear boundaries, and cultivating resilience practices, teachers can lay the foundation for a successful and fulfilling year of teaching. We know, as highlighted in the Joy in Teaching books, that teacher stress is directly connected to student performance, so why not set ourselves up for success this year with entering the school year with clear intentions?

Looking for more research-based resources on teacher resilience and retention? Make sure to sign up for emails, check more free articles and explore all that Joy in Teaching has to offer including the courses, PD, and books available to help educators building resilience, fight burnout, and reclaim their joy in teaching.

Eddy, P., Wertheim, E. H., & Hale, A. J. (2016). The relationship between students’ perceptions of teacher-student interaction and academic performance. Educational Psychology, 36(7), 1212-1228.
Grandey, A. A., Fisk, G. M., Mattila, A. S., Jansen, K. J., & Sideman, L. A. (2005). Is “service with a smile” enough? Authenticity of positive displays during service. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 96(1), 38-55.
Jennings, P. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). The prosocial classroom: Teacher social and emotional competence in relation to student and classroom outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), 491-525.
Krasner, M. S., Epstein, R. M., Beckman, H., Suchman, A. L., Chapman, B., Mooney, C. J., & Quill, T. E. (2009). Association of an educational program in mindful communication with burnout, empathy, and attitudes among primary care physicians. JAMA, 302(12), 1284-1293.
Sutherland, S., Brunskill, R., & Brunton, V. J. (2019). How do teachers experience stress? A qualitative study of teachers’ stress in secondary schools in the UK. Teacher Development, 23(4), 499-515.
Totterdell, P., Kellett, S., Teuchmann, K., & Briner, R. B. (1998). Evidence of mood linkage in work groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(6), 1504-1515.

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