Here are four important pillars of resilience, and ways you can strengthen them:
Strengthen your school relationships
It’s not how many relationships you have but how strong and stable they are. When our relationships are strong, we laugh more, feel more supported and are healthier.
What You Can Do: Nurture your relationship with your colleagues, especially the ones who really “get it.” If you are having a hard week, reach out to your co-workers, grab lunch in the staff room, call a colleague in another school and talk. Even a short break with a colleague can be enough to give you a boost.
Emphasise the positive
The ideas we hold about ourselves, along with our values and core beliefs—create the foundation that we use to respond to change. When we approach the world positively, we’re better able to learn from mistakes, handle challenges and follow our instincts. Operating from the belief that you’re an important part of your pupils’ lives and that you can tackle whatever challenges come your way is important for your day-to-day resilience.
What You Can Do: Take time to reflect on how you benefit your pupils’ or colleagues' lives, as well as how working in school benefits you. Keep this front and centre by writing those benefits on a piece of paper and putting it in a place where you’ll see it every day. That could be tucked into your right-hand desk drawer or on a Post-it on your computer. When you keep the reasons you do this job front and centre, they’ll bolster your mood and confidence when you need it most.
Take the initiative
In the face of challenge, resilient people act purposefully and creatively, often finding multiple solutions for any problem. Think of all the ways you’ve solved disagreements between pupils or taught and retaught concepts. Think about the times when you’ve had to change a plan or take a different approach. The ability to take the initiative through problem solving, laughter and setting limits translates into our being able to respond to change and handle difficult situations.
What You Can Do: Try to re-frame how you think and communicate your frustrations and it’ll impact how you feel. Rather than saying “I can’t do this” or “I can’t teach this pupil”, re-frame it as “I’m frustrated with how long it’s taking for the pupil to understand.” Saying “I can’t” puts up a roadblock, while identifying the frustration creates an opportunity to move forward. Make time for laughter. Laughter is like a reset button: It reduces stress and helps clear our emotions. Take one week and jot down all the funny things that your pupils (or coworkers or parents) say. Then, in a moment of frustration, take out that list to reset your mood.
Keep emotions in check
Self-control is the ability to manage our emotions in productive ways, so that we control our behaviors rather than letting our emotions run the show. The fifth time a pupil breaks a golden rule or the moments after you have a difficult conversation with a colleague, are the moments when self-control is most important. Controlling how you respond in that moment makes all the difference.
What You Can Do: Think outside the box. Particularly for recurring frustrations, sit down either in a quiet space or with a friend and brainstorm: What is the problem? Who can you ask for help? How can you find humour in the situation? What new approaches can you try?