Tonight’s 15 Minute Forum was led by Dave Hall (Drama Teacher).
GRIT and resilience is a key focus at the moment with students and something which we are working on developing with our Year 7 students in this academic year. Shaun Allison has posted about how Durrington are using the work of Angela Duckworth to develop GRIT in our students. However, this is also an important trait which we need to nurture within us, as teachers.
In order to deliver effective teaching and learning, teachers need to develop resilience and patience.
- ‘They are never going to learn.’
- Will I ever get this class in working order?’
- ‘Am I capable of getting them to behave?’
Some or any of these doubts or worries about your teaching will not only affect us, as teachers, but also negatively impact on the outcomes of our students. The ability to develop resilience, over the course of an academic year and during the course of a career, is an important ability. However, it is not an individual trait. Instead, resilience is developed through the interactions between people within schools. At different times of the year, and at different times of our careers, teachers will need to be more resilient than during previous times. A study by Patterson, Collins and Abbott (2004) has shown that resilient teachers have the following characteristics:
- Have personal views that guide their decision making.
- Place a high value on professional development.
- Mentor others.
- Take charge and solve problems.
- Stay focussed on children and their learning.
- Do what it takes to help children be successful.
- Know when to get involved and when to let go.
- Are not wedded to one best way of teaching and are interested in exploring new ideas.
Mentoring others is an important aspect as this allows resilient teachers to support and guide their peers, without being judgemental. In addition, the ability of resilient teachers to ‘stay focussed on children and their learning’ allows those teachers to strive for the very best outcomes for their students. The final characteristic links to Dweck’s work on a Growth Mindset and is intrinsically linked to the teaching and learning approach at Durrington. Dave spoke about his view that Durrington encourages and nurtures resilience in its staff by:
- listening to the views of the teachers and staff;
- providing opportunities to mentor and support colleagues;
- providing a shared experience (where everyone is involved) in the teaching and meeting the needs of our students.
Becoming more resilient
Dave posed the question ‘How strong are your relationships in school?’ As, has previously been written about relationships between staff and students are important in promoting strong outcomes. However, the relationships between staff are also vital in developing effective teaching and learning. In order to become more resilient it is important to emphasise the positive. Studies by Gilham et al.(1995) have shown that by changing ‘explanatory styles’ positivity can be learned. For us, as teachers, it is important to remember that:
- we operate as part of our student’s lives;
- we can tackle whatever challenges are created on a day-by-day basis;
- we reflect on how we have benefitted our student’s lives;
- we are able to respond to change and handle difficult situations.
Dave spoke about the importance of reflecting on our success and not simply focussing on the negatives or disappointments. It is important to speak positively. Studies have shown that being positive and reflecting on the successes can:
- act as protective factors against depression (Tindle et al., 2009);
- lead to less disruption of normal life, distress and fatigue (Carver, Lehman, Antoni, 2003).
It has been found that when faced with challenges, resilient people act purposefully and creatively, to find multiple strategies for any problem. As teachers, we are pretty good at this!
In order to become more resilient and ultimately achieve the best outcomes for our students, it is important to remember why we became teachers. The passion and commitment that teachers show on a daily basis, can be lost under the weight of the demands of teaching. Teaching is not an easy profession, but by nurturing resilience we can support and sustain our practice.
Posted by Martyn Simmonds