Resilience is difficult to instill, but it does require the two things that many children may lack: supportive relationships and opportunities for skill building.
I honestly believe the single most common factor for children who end up doing well is having the support of at least one committed relationship with a stable parent, caregiver, or other adult. These relationships are the activating agents in building resilience. I try to do this by providing personalized responsiveness, scaffolding lessons, and protection for each of my student. I don’t try and give every child the same thing, I try to give them what they need. Is that the proper relationship of a teacher and student?
Teacher/student relationships help develop important capacities such as the ability to plan, monitor, and regulate behavior, and adapt to changing circumstances—that better enables students to respond to adversity when they face it. This combination of supportive relationships, adaptive skill-building, and positive experiences builds a solid foundation for a child’s resilience and can dramatically change the course of their lives.
I like to think of myself as a Resilience Coach. Every year I try to do five practices that I believe cultures have done throughout history that help build resilience. These five practices include: storytelling; listening; eating; recreating; and blessing. We must tell stories that the students can connect with, and we need to listen to the stories of each other’s lives, cultures, and experiences. Eating together is a rich time in the development of a child, but it doesn’t happen much. Recreating could include anything from teaching a child to throw a Frisbee, to peeling an orange. I once saw a student’s resilience grow after I sat him down and taught him how to peel an orange. When it comes to blessing, a random act of kindness is shown to a particular individual which gives them a sense of value and dignity.
With these five practices, an understanding of students' backgrounds, and a sense of empathy, teachers have the ability to help our must vulnerable community thrive in today's world.