May 4th marks National Teacher’s Day, a day for recognizing and appreciating the hard work that goes into cultivating the young minds of the world. This last year has been especially taxing on teachers, adding to the typical stress and burnout that comes with the job without a pandemic. However, stress does not mean that we can’t be resilient in the face of adversity. Luckily, resilience is not a trait, but rather a skill that can be learned and cultivated.
In fact, there are many ways to increase resilience and grow from struggles. Particularly, there are 7 C’s of resilience that can help you along the way: competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control.
Competence is the belief that you are capable of completing a task. Think about all you have accomplished and what you excel at. In areas that you don’t feel as competent, who can you go to improve your skill set? Whether it be your administration, other teachers, the school psychologist, or other professionals in the school, competence grows by knowing when to ask for help.
Confidence, or the belief in your own abilities, is an important part of building resilience. If you are not feeling confident it will be hard to successfully teach in the classroom. If you are lacking confidence, think about what is going well so far and dispute negative thoughts you might have about your abilities. By focusing on the positive, you will hopefully recognize that you are skillful in the classroom. And just like competence, don’t be afraid to ask for help in areas that you feel less confident.
Connection is having close ties to family, friends, and community and is an integral part of resilience and well-being. Sharing struggles with other teachers will allow you to recognize that you are not alone in your stress in the classroom and in your personal life. Having connections outside of school is equally important. Social support can decrease stress and improve psychological well being.
Character is having a sense of right and wrong, integrity, and having a moral compass. Guiding your actions with a sense of character will help you feel good about your decisions and will help you have a sense of empathy for others.
Contribution is helping others around us and in our community. It helps us feel like we matter and have a purpose. Even when teaching feels thankless, thinking of even one student who you have made a positive impact on can bolster your meaning in work and help you build resilience.
Coping is being able to handle life’s stressors and can come from within ourselves or from people around us. Building your repertoire of coping and stress-reduction skills can help you effectively deal with the stresses of the classroom.
Control is feeling like we have some control over certain aspects of our lives. While we don’t have control over our students or loved ones catching COVID-19, we do have control over cleaning surfaces, enforcing proper mask wearing and social distancing. Additionally, increasing feelings of control in the classroom can come from behavior plans, following a daily routine in the classroom, and making expectations clear for students. When limits are set, teachers will feel more in control of their classroom.
The 7 C’s build on one another and all tie together, so building resilience in one area will help other areas flourish as well. Resilience in the classroom also includes taking care of yourself. That means eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and finding healthy ways to manage stress. Resilience is important for you as well as your students. By encouraging and fostering the 7 C’s in students, they themselves will become more resilient.
One final note is that in order to become resilient we must struggle. Struggling teaches us that we are capable of bouncing back after hardship and gives us room to grow and develop. So the next time you have a particularly hard day, rather than thinking “I can’t do this,” I encourage you to think “What did I learn from this? And how can this make me a better teacher/person/etc.”
Wishing you a Happy National Teacher’s Day!- TLC-VR