Just what is a resilient teacher? In short, it is a teacher that can recover and bounce back from any and all adverse conditions regarding the teaching environment. Whew! That's a mouthful, isn't it? Even before pandemic conditions, teachers have always had to be resilient, even from day to day. Something goes wrong one day, you dust yourself off, and start the next day new. But recent times have taken a toll on the teaching profession.
*Please note: At the end of this article are links to all other articles on making your teaching work easier.
What might be some factors that require resiliency?
Student behavior has always been there. Trouble-making, defiant students can drain you. If you have cried at the end of a day, don't be ashamed. Many do. Perhaps the first part of resiliency is being able to admit defeat sometimes....but not quit. Classroom discipline does not come cheap or easy for most teachers. Be determined to be a Grade A Teacher in classroom discipline. (If you have not read our article on classroom discipline, please do so ASAP!)
Next up is what they don't prepare you for in college teaching courses: The massive workload, paperwork, and the exhaustion that comes with it! Don't despair! The paperwork that your district requires cannot be cut. So be determined to get that done and done, and get organized about it! Everything and anything that adds to your workload needs to properly organized and finished.
But the workload of a teacher begins and ends with students. Many teachers think they must make their students work more and more.....and more. Unfortunately, this makes YOUR workload heavier and heavier.....and heavier. You end up working harder than your students do! That's nuts! We already have a full article on lowering the stress of teaching. It covers a whole list of things to make your teaching days, and evenings, lighter. One way is to limit the amount of student work you actually collect, grade, and keep track of. This is especially true if you teach in a secondary classroom.
Just a short summary here: Assign less homework. Give credit for completion, not necessarily perfection. Multiple choice tests. Long term assignments instead of daily. Succinct planned lessons far in advance. If not, you will be grading for hours.
You will need to work on your self-esteem.
Be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished. You need to be a GOOD teacher and know that you are! Demonstrate this on a daily basis in front of your classroom. You will be better at dealing with criticism from all sides. And, bounce back from a lousy parent-teacher confrontation. Show your expertise with confidence and tact.
For the most part, a teacher's resiliency lies within.
Sad, but true. You should be prepared for little positive feedback. No support. Lack of respect and appreciation. It has always gone with the territory of teaching, but now is more pronounced. Develop a thick skin. Move on. Don't dwell. Only YOU can accomplish this. All districts have teacher development conferences, workshops, or assigned personnel that can help you. Take advantage of any mentor teachers. Or, perhaps you can become one yourself! Nothing helps with self-esteem and accomplishment better than helping others out. Network. Don't be ashamed or scared to ask other teachers for help. Remember, they are in the same boat.
Teachers, sometimes it's the luck of the draw of what school you get assigned to.
The school is the most important part of teacher resiliency.
There are things you cannot control, but perhaps you can alter them a little. The school and school culture are a dead giveaway to what your job will be like. Your school culture is perhaps the biggest thing for teacher resiliency. Does your school support teachers in every way? Do they have adequate resources for teachers and students? Do they deal effectively with parents? Problem students? Do they practice the appreciation of teachers?
You can alter this, perhaps. A teacher can be determined to have a positive attitude no matter what. Be friendly always. Be creative when resources are lacking. Maybe even set out to make little changes in the culture of the school by getting involved in decisions and camaraderie. It's not easy. If you cannot choose your school, you must choose your attitude. Don't be soured on students, staff, and parents. Don't give up and just be another lame teacher in a lame institution. It happens every day. Be determined to elevate the atmosphere, even in small ways. If other teachers are depressed and don't care, well, don't follow them. Those teachers have no resiliency. You will notice that in many instances, a positive attitude is contagious! Be sure and not criticize others openly either. This will not accomplish anything and only lead to animosity.
You will hear things from other teachers. You will hear how bad the students are. How the parents don't care. Well, take that information and be determined to raise the bar, even if it's just a little.
It is a cliche, but yes, teachers can make lemonade out of lemons. It's a part of resiliency.
Last but not least, teachers most certainly need sleep, nutrition, and exersize. Without this, you will fail at resiliency and burnout quickly.
It's is always a good idea to go to bed early, and get to school early. You cannot be prepared for a class full of students if you get to school five minutes before the bell rings.
Believe it or not, your lunch time can be a huge de-stresser. Bring your lunch and keep it in the classroom. This will accomplish more than you know. You will save money.
Don't forget exercise! Set aside a few minutes each evening to go for a walk, jog, or bike ride. If you have time for a gym, go for it. But the time spent going and coming might cut into other things.
Now that you know a little about resiliency as a teacher, you have made the first step! Below are articles specifically written for teachers to improve resiliency.