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Nourishing Resilient Schools & Classrooms - Top 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Community (A Primer for School Leaders)

Nourishing Resilient Schools & Classrooms - Top 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Community (A Primer for School Leaders)
July 2, 2023 at 4:00 AM
Teacher giving fist bump to student

Remy gave me his usual side-eye as I walked into his fifth-grade classroom. He had arrived at our campus in the first quarter of the year after *not being the right fit* at about four other schools. He was accustomed to principals giving him the shakedown for his wit, snarl, and perpetual bite. Remy wasn’t aware that I am an OG that was also an outcast in his fifth-grade year too.

I walked over to Remy with my computer opened.

“What did I do now? I told Mr. C. that it wasn’t my fault this time….” chimed Remy

“Remy, thank you for the confession, but that’s not why I am here…” I interrupted.

He starred angrily at me for interrupting him.

“Then what?” he retorted.

I presented him with my computer screen that showed him his reading score from his first week with us to now (which was January).

“What does this mean, Mr. M.?”

“It means you have been listening to Mr. C. and you have grown 2 grade levels in reading already. You are just as smart as we thought you are. Keep up the good work. Is it okay I share this with your Mom later.”

“I don’t know if she is going to believe it, Mr. C. Are you serious? Did I really jump 2 levels?”

“Yessir. You know I have no reason to lie to you. Pretty proud of you. I know you come off with a bunch of huff and puff…but I knew underneath it all that you do care about your schooling and how we see you. As I told you before, you and I have more in common than you know.”

Remy’s shoulders lessen their tight grip on his frame and he sat back a bit as he watched me share some details from my tumultuous year in fifth grade.

“When you are ready, come by my office and we can call your Mom together. I am pretty proud of you that you chose to believe in us this time.”

Remy isn’t unique in his story. There are millions of Remy’s across the globe that face unparalleled challenges with trauma, instability, and unrest in their life situations. They carry immense talent and an unyielding desire to be loved.

When we nourish our scholars (and their educators) with tools, tips, and coaching on how they can leverage their resilience and grit into magic, they rise to the occasion in ways we cannot imagine. As a teacher or principal, you can foster resilience in your students and create a more positive and supportive learning environment.

Here are tips for nourishing & promoting resilience in your classroom or school:

  1. Foster a Growth Mindset

Encouraging a growth mindset in your students can help them develop resilience. A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through hard work, effort, and persistence. This way of thinking helps students embrace challenges and learn from failure, rather than being discouraged by setbacks. You can learn more about how to foster a growth mindset in your students by checking out resources such as the Growth Mindset Toolkit by Big Life Journa

2. Build Strong Sustainable Relationships

Students who feel connected to their teachers and peers are more likely to feel supported and resilient. Building strong relationships with your students can help create a sense of belonging and encourage students to feel more comfortable taking risks and trying new things. You can learn more about building strong relationships in the classroom by checking out resources such as Edutopia's guide to Relationship-Centered Classrooms or the Teacher Toolkit from The Parent-Child Home Program.

3. Teach & Promote Coping Strategies

Teaching your students coping strategies can help them develop resilience in the face of challenges. Coping strategies can include things like deep breathing, mindfulness, positive self-talk, and problem-solving skills. You can learn more about teaching coping strategies in the classroom by checking out resources such as the Coping Skills for Kids Workbook or these resources from the Coalition of Schools Educating Mindfully

4. Creating Nurturing a Positive School Culture

Creating a positive school culture requires sustainability and a continued refinement of values, vision, and execution. Nurturing a positive school culture can help students feel supported and valued, which can contribute to their resilience. A positive school culture can include things like celebrating student successes, encouraging kindness and empathy, and promoting a growth mindset. You can learn more about creating a positive school culture by checking out resources from Urban Assembly or this guide from the National School Climate Center.

5. Encourage Self-Care

Encouraging self-care can help students develop resilience by teaching them to prioritize their mental and physical well-being. Self-care can include things like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, and spending time with friends and family. You can learn more about encouraging self-care in the classroom by checking out resources from the Counseling Teacher, Mindful Schools, or Ivy Child International.

In conclusion, Remy's story highlights the transformative power of nurturing resilience in students facing challenges. By acknowledging his strengths and progress, his teacher helped him realize his true potential. Remy's journey is not unique, as there are countless students like him around the world who yearn for support and love. When educators provide tools, guidance, and a positive learning environment, students can rise to the occasion and achieve remarkable things.

To foster resilience in the classroom or school, several tips can be implemented. First, cultivating a growth mindset encourages students to embrace challenges and learn from failure. Building strong relationships with students creates a sense of belonging and support. Teaching coping strategies equips students with skills to navigate difficulties effectively. Nurturing a positive school culture, celebrating successes, and promoting empathy and kindness contribute to a supportive environment. Finally, encouraging self-care prioritizes students' well-being and reinforces resilience.

By implementing these strategies, educators can empower students to overcome obstacles, embrace their potential, and create a positive and supportive learning environment. Each student, like Remy, has the capacity to shine and thrive when given the tools and guidance to harness their resilience and grit.