Why Teacher Resilience?
I served in an urban school district for many years, first as an English teacher and then as a literacy coach traveling to other secondary schools within the district. I worked with some amazing humans and saw the toll that teaching took on their lives both in and out of the classroom. I saw and even experienced firsthand how we as teachers take home the tremendous burdens of the job with little relief found after the school day ends. The intensity of teaching and serving our dear students gives us barely any time to rejuvenate and be our best day after day.
When I had the opportunity to visit other high schools within the district, I realized that we were not alone; the issues and burdens that existed at my high school were present even more so within these other schools.
It was then that I made the career shift to direct a teacher preparation program at a university. As a clinical professor and supervisor, part of my duties is observing candidates in the secondary schools. I quickly saw with my own eyes--urban, suburban, and rural--that the same stress-related problem existed, just exhibited in different ways: teachers are expected to do the preposterous, while most times these actions do not directly benefit nor support our students, our most valuable resources and the sole reason why schools exist.
Then I thought it could just be in my state, so I interviewed and connected with educators from around the United States, and they all have similar stories.
Part of my mission is to prepare teacher candidates for these realities as educators. I want them to become resilient and thrive in the face of the adversities that they will eventually experience in different ways as teachers.
The Resilient Teacher Project was born. It’s a podcast and FaceBook page to inspire and empower educators, it’s a repository of research and resources to educate and create awareness, and it’s online professional development to grow resilient teacher leaders.
I also realize that equipping new teachers with these skills is not enough. We need to take steps to transform our educational system. Our best hope of change rests with our teachers--the boots-on-the-ground, movers and shakers. Teacher empowerment can catalyze a transformation of our educational system. Step one: give the teachers all the tools they need to succeed, including resilience skills--would we not give a surgeon a scalpel or a gardener a shovel? Next, create a change in approach so deep and lasting that it will transform the very way our next generation is educated--benefitting student and teacher.
I invite you to listen to the podcast, read the research and resources, and participate in professional development through The Resilient Teacher Project.
Take good care,