Thursday, April 23, 2015

Promoting Resiliency in School

At risk students, or any students for that matter, have two choices when faced with an obstacle: they can see the mountain in their way and sit at the bottom or they can look at the mountain, climb the mountain, and summit the mountain. It is inspiring to witness students overcome what could or should be insurmountable obstacles and grow into healthy, smart and fully functioning members of society. Resiliency is what makes those students climb the mountain, no matter how big or small, with the goal of reaching the top. Promoting and teaching resiliency is an important function of any school and should be a school wide effort. In order to give our students their best chance of overcoming any obstacle they may find in their way we need to provide them with the tools and the resilience to do so. This ability to succeed despite adversity stems from resilience, or coping effectively with difficulties that might otherwise lead to anxiety, depression, withdrawal, physical symptoms, or poor achievement. (Harvey, 2007)

The Resilient Student
 Positive attitudes that promote resiliency include encouraging oneself to try, being determined to persevere until success is attained, applying a problem solving approach to difficult situations, and fostering feelings of hardiness. (Harvey, 2007) Optimism and determination are important attributes of a resilient student. These attributes allow the student to think through individual tasks and achieve success. A resilient student tends to have high self-esteem, thick skin and sense of humor, which is why they are not easily discouraged by failure when they are learning a new skill. 

The Resilient School
According to Bonnie Bennard (1991), many studies during the past 10 years have clearly documented the school’s ability to help students overcome the effects of poverty, abuse, crime and other environmental threats. Overcoming outside influences as well as any other situations that students may be faced with will make them stronger, the skills needed to overcome need to be taught and maintained in the school environment. This begins with a caring and supportive staff of people that are able to clearly demonstrate care and support for the student. This environment is composed of positive role models, student support networks, opportunities for social support; close relationships among students and a clear message that people at the school sincerely care for them. (Fox, 1994) If counselors and teachers can make connections with students who need the extra help or that extra push to succeed we would see more students climbing the mountain rather than sitting at the base looking at the top.

Building a resilient student body is important to building a successful school. As educators we need to promote resiliency as well as teach the skills needed to give students the ability to reach their goals and climb the mountains they may find before them.


Bennard, Bonnie. (1991). Fostering Reiliency in Kids: Protective Factors in Family, School, and Community. Portland, Oregon: Northwest Educational Laboratory.
Fox, D. S. (1994). Promoting Resiliency in Students. Trust for Educational Leadership, 24(3), 34-40.
Harvey, V. S. (2007). Raising Resiliency Schoolwide. Education Digest, 72(7), 33-39.

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