The British Psychological Society has recently released a report discussing teacher resilience during school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is an insightful and very detailed report that highlights how to promote resilience in teachers. We have picked what we believe is some key advice and summarised the report in this blog.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity and to adapt to challenging situations. Those with a good level of resilience have the ability to get back on their feet quicker, and with less stress than someone whose resilience is less developed. Evidence shows that resilience is a process and not a trait as it can be enhanced over time.
Furthermore, research suggests that teachers need resilience to be able to teach effectively. Whilst we are always looking to promote ways to increase resilience, there are times where it can become tough to keep going. It is important for teachers and senior leaders to take initiative and ensure that their resilience continues to develop as it is as important as ever during these times.
Enhancing Teacher Resilience
Teachers demonstrate resilience every day in the classroom and continue to do so during school closures. There are three areas that the British Psychological Society consider to be the most important to focus on when aiming to enhance teacher resilience: belonging, help-seeking, and learning. Let’s take a closer look at each one…
During these times of isolation and remote working, feeling a sense of belonging and connectedness is fundamental. As a teacher, there are a number of relationships that are key; this includes those with the senior leaders, colleagues, students, and family.
It is important for there to be consistent communication, whether this is through emails or setting up video conferences so that teachers can check in with others. Without the opportunity for a passing moment of praise in a classroom, encouraging feedback and positive affirmations can ensure that teachers still feel valued. The pandemic has caused many of us to experience drastic changes to our daily lives and some reassurance can help make the process a little easier. Research shows that teacher-student relationships are a key factor in motivating many to stay in the profession, further demonstrating the importance of keeping these intact.
Evidence shows that asking others for help can contribute to teacher resilience. If we are able to ask for help and obtain feedback, we can overcome setbacks and grow – these are key traits needed to enhance our resilience. This can be challenging at times as it requires one to be vulnerable, and so teachers should be encouraged and supported. The newfound confidence to seek advice from their colleagues will help teachers develop and build up their resilience.
Encouraging feedback is especially useful during these times. Not only does research suggest that teachers who seek advice are more likely to be considered expert teachers, but it also contributes to creating a safe space where teachers can be vulnerable. Whilst we are all going through some trial and error to figure out how to make the most of remote teaching and learning, those in senior positions should take the first step and ask for feedback to set a positive example for teachers to follow.
Resilience can be fostered through learning in a multitude of ways. When teachers are given the opportunity to learn and develop their abilities, it often results in strengthening their resilience. During this time of uncertainty, where the future is a place of confusion, many teachers may be experiencing feelings of self-doubt.
Here are a few strategies that the British Psychological Society recommends and that we believe are most effective:
- Encourage reflection – As teachers explore new ways to teach, they will be continuously adjusting and will probably make a few mistakes before they find something that works well for them and their students. The failures are just as important as the successes, and teachers should be encouraged to reflect on both to make further progress. Reflective thinking promotes learning and enhances self-awareness; a fundamental aspect of resilience.
- Leadership praise – Being given praise by senior leaders can strongly influence teachers’ view of their performance. Research has demonstrated that praising someone for their effort and strategies is likely to help them develop a growth mindset and enhance the belief that they can improve. This may be because teachers can acquire new skills and strategies, subsequently promoting a resilience mindset during adversity.
Given the current situation that has led to school closures and remote teaching, it can become difficult to stay resilient. We believe that the advice and strategies above can be especially helpful for teachers to remain resilient during these testing times.
To read the British Psychological Society report in full for further guidance on enhancing teacher resilience during school closures, check it out here.
We have put together free resource six-packs to help support you during lockdown. There is something for everyone: teachers, parents and students. Download them for free here.
We also recommend our free printable goal setting worksheets. They will help students develop and maintain a good routine to promote their learning and well-being during lockdown.