Let’s Learn to Become Resilient and Model it for our Children #BCSLearns

“Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure
than you ever will from something you never finished
.”
-Neil Gaiman, writer

I finally got the chance to read an article from the February 11, 2016 issue of The New Yorker entitled How People Learn to Become Resilient. The article references the work of Norman Garmezy (1918-2009) who “is widely credited with being the first to study the concept in an experimental setting.”  Garmezy research suggests that “it’s only when you’re faced with obstacles, stress, and other environmental threats that resilience, or the lack of it, emerges: Do you succumb or do you surmount?” Further studies, referenced in the article, completed by another research psychologist, Emmy Werner, concluded that “the resilient children saw themselves as the orchestrators of their own fates. In fact, on a scale that measured locus of control, they scored more than two standard deviations away from the standardization group.” Building off the work of Garmezy and Werner, George Bonanno has found that “one of the central elements of resilience is perception: Do you conceptualize an event as traumatic, or as an opportunity to learn and grow?”  When thinking about resilience, I can’t help but think about growth mindset. I’ve shared in previous posts about nurturing a growth mindset and I’ve mentioned the importance of fostering grit in ourselves and others.  What about resilience?  Resilience aligns with these notions to be sure.  All three, growth mindset, grit and resilience reference a level of comfort in, if not celebration of, failure as an integral part of the learning process (see the Gaiman quote at the top).  The article from The New Yorker concluded by suggesting a hopeful notion: “This research shows that resilience is, ultimately, a set of skills that can be taught.”  A few years ago as part of my typical “summer learning tour”, I was in a session, led by Dr. Debbie McFalone, which focused on resilience.  She shared her Seven Steps to Resilience and the importance of honing those steps in ourselves, the children we raise and the students we serve.  We can learn them; we can teach them!

  1. Be smart enough to ask for help
  2. Be aware of your self talk
  3. Cultivate a sense of humor and seek it out in others.
  4. Keep a perspective on time; know that your current state is not forever
  5. Replenish your spirit
  6. Remain hopeful
  7. Practice intentional self-care

When you have the time, take the time to listen to Grading Schools on Student Resilience and Self-control a 50-minute podcast with Diane Rehms on NPR which covers how a few large districts in California are going about formally assessing skills like grit, self-control and other social-emotional.  I’m proud to say that we do some of this right here at BCS where in 3-8 Engage and 5-8 Thinkering Studio we are Assessing Skills that Matter using a variety of rubrics available at BalancED Tech!

You don’t have a lot of time?  Watch (again if you’ve seen it already) Angela Lee Duckworth’s TedTalk called “The key to success? Grit”.

Want more reading?  Click below…
7 Steps to Build Resilient Children Who Aren’t Afraid to Fail
The 7 Steps to Greater Resilience
The 7 Cs: The Essential Building Blocks of Resilience
7 Steps to Build Leadership Resilience
Can Growth Mindset Theory Reshape the Classroom?

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