10 Lesser Known Ways To Cultivate Resilience in Educators And Students
Guest article by Dr. Jared Scherz.
Dr. Scherz is a clinical psychologist, author, consultant, and the founder of TeacherCoach, LLC. For more information about his program, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his site at http://teachercoach.com. You can also contact Robyn to learn more about TeacherCoach and how they can serve you or your school district this year.
It’s time for a new school year.
The importance of teacher health (physical and mental) along with stress management, are two areas we need to bring to the table for discussion. Teachers who do not take care of their physical and mental health cannot be up to par for the precious gifts in their classrooms. Here are ten tips to help you start off your school year on a healthy note.
1. Coping skills: Increase tolerance for discomfort through distress inoculation training
One of the most important universal goals for all people, is to raise our capacity for discomfort. Especially for those in acute or chronically stressful jobs, the value of enduring emotional pain is critical. The longer we can withstand discomfort, the more time we have to be intentional about our coping method. Those who instinctively resort to anger, withdrawal, or other types of maladaptive coping skills, will be more likely to suffer an emotional breakdown.
2. Avoid fragmentation: Explore constructive differencing paradigms
The least understood life skill for children or adults is the exploration of differences. Those who find differences threatening will experience less intimacy, less impact, and less engagement. The avoidance, dismissal, or overpowering of differences is what leads to fragmentation in small and large groups. Educators and students require this critical skill to adapt to a more integrated workforce, to navigate the complexities of online relatedness, and deal with the challenges of a multicultural society.
3. Fix communication: Develop reciprocal feedback loops with peers and colleagues
Talking in this manner means learning how to express and receive with our peers and colleagues, in a way that keeps conflicts contained. Educators and students will often bring others into their conflicts as a way of gaining support, but this has the consequence of deepening/ broadening the conflict. Feedback loops are designed with useful parameters and incentives for remaining engaged throughout the tumult of decision making.
4. Supervisor feedback management: Learn new tools to receive and assimilate feedback without defensiveness
Teacher observations are notorious for inducing stress. Until we learn how to utilize a polarity system that reduces subjectivity and increases self-reflective practice, we need educators to find out how to welcome input without feeling guarded. Teachers need to be continuously growing their self-awareness so they can reduce blind spots and efficiently navigate the complex academic and social-emotional needs of students. To do so without feedback increases the risk for stagnation and becoming antiquated in our practice.
5. Negotiation skills: Necessary for gaining and maintaining support
Teaching is known for being a siloed profession, isolated by the very nature of separate classroom instruction. The need for personal and professional support is critical in reducing burnout. However, this is more challenging for some. How we feel supported can vary widely among individuals. How we offer support reflects how we would want to receive it.
Combined, these variables make it more important for people to learn how to ask for and negotiate what they need before teachers feel resentment.
6. School culture: Appreciate the impact of school culture on individual performance
School culture is a commonly used term but widely misunderstood. The complexities of school culture and organizational health require an appreciation of the three dimensions, including adaptation, climate, and infrastructure and the subsets of each. Through each lens, this ‘culture’ will be experienced differently by students and teachers, making it necessary to appreciate the way we perceive this ambiguous but powerful force that influences several of our basic needs.
7. Discover triggers: Identify why certain students evoke different frustrations
There are reasons why some students irk us while others seem irresistibly naughty. The student’s behavior has less to do with the student and more to do with what gets elicited within us as adults. All student behavior can be linked to unmet needs, which drives all behavior. But while some actions seem particularly obnoxious to us, it can be a result of our own unmet needs and life experiences. This awareness is a critical self-reflective practice that is required to improve engagement.
8. The personal lives of teachers: Link personal issues to capacity for potency, peace, and presence
This high number is not a novel idea in the workforce, although somehow teachers are expected to leave their baggage at the door. A more productive avenue is to explore our baggage and appreciate that we bring it with us wherever we go. Potency, presence, and peace are critical elements for job satisfaction and require exploration into this integration of personal and professional selves.
9. What matters: Understand balance of process versus outcome
People who are less stressed are those who appreciate the value of process over content. This idea is quite a challenge when you consider the fact that we are in an era of improved accountability, making outcomes our focus. While we have built greater uniformity and awareness about our deficits, we have also sacrificed autonomy and creativity for many educators. In doing so, we have helped them to feel like assembly line workers who have little input to the process.
10. Teachers, take care of yourselves: Re-calibrate brain and body integration
The most stressed individuals are ones who are disproportionately in their brains. Understandable for educators who spend the plethora of their time instructing. In doing so, we create an imbalance with our other parts, leading us to neglect our bodies. We meet our needs through our bodies.
Also, when messages go unmet, our bodies react physically and emotionally.
Learning how to tune into our bodies can help us be more intuitive, more present, and more vital inside and outside the classroom.