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Teach Resiliency in your students

After the year we had, resilience is something that is going to be key to getting students back up and running. Did you know that resilience is actually a social emotional skill? This skill helps kids and teens realize that not everything will go their way. It is very important to teach because kids will fail sometimes. We need to let them know “it’s okay!”

I have known students in my teaching career who are not okay with failure. Even as young as I teach they are striving for perfection and that can be dangerous. Their self esteem and confidence go down when they fail…and often times they will just give up before finishing. This would lead to students who are upset, frustrated and emotional when things aren’t working out for them.

I have also known students who are strong resilience kids and keep calm when something it not working out. They are able to address the situation, find the struggle and work through it. They will be the students to try and figure out a better method and not beat themselves up when something goes wrong. That is what we want all the students to do!

I want students to be able to figure out problems on their own and handle them. I want students to see that they will need to take care of their problems sometimes, and that they are not perfect. Kids can’t do this on their own. They need an adult to help them. Sure, their parents are there for them but school is where a lot of this skill set will come into play. They need their teachers to also reinforce this skill. Here are some ideas on how we can foster resilience in our students.

Talk to Students when they are calm

Do you know what it is like when you are frustrated and someone tells you to “calm down?” Yea, it’s a mess. I know that I get more frustrated with the situation and simply cannot calm down. Discussing resiliency with students when they are already calm is the first thing in being successful.

We spend a lot of time in my classroom discussing resiliency techniques before the students needs them. We talk about “What if..” and I make up a scenario and we talk through what we would do in that situation. We discuss how to handle ourselves, who we can talk to and strategies we can use to cope. Doing this as a lesson in whole group rather than as it unfolds will help students.

Let students do things on their own.

Kids and teens aren’t always going to do thing perfectly. That’s okay! Let them do tasks on their own, even if it’s not exactly the way you would do it. This is an important step to remind kids that they can accomplish difficult tasks independently.

I know that as an adult it can be hard to remember what it was like to not be able to complete simple tasks on our own. But we need to let students do things on their own to help them build up their resiliency. Sure, it will take longer and it may not be perfect but that is what they need. This is a great reminder to students that they can do hard things!

I know we have all had the students who are unable to do anything for themselves because at home it is done for them. When these students come into our classrooms it is so hard for them to stay with the group and complete any task. Slowly but surely we ask students to start doing things and they do…their self confidence soars and they become a better student! They realize that they can do it and it makes them so happy! Build that confidence and allow them to do things by themselves.

I know we have all had the students who are unable to do anything for themselves because at home it is done for them. When these students come into our classrooms it is so hard for them to stay with the group and complete any task. Slowly but surely we ask students to start doing things and they do…their self confidence soars and they become a better student! They realize that they can do it and it makes them so happy! Build that confidence and allow them to do things by themselves.

Let students make mistakes

When my students are working on an assignment and I see that a child has written some letters or number backwards do I fix it? NO. I let them know that their effort was great and I can tell that they tried really hard. I know that with time and practice they student will get it right but making mistakes is going to be apart of their process.

The students can see that it is not right, they can tell that it doesn’t look the exact same but it is important for teachers to praise their efforts in what they are doing. We need to build their self confidence and get them pumped for what they can do as people! Rather that assisting the child and fixing their mistake as them how they are doing and remind them that you are there if they need help. If they say that help is not needed simply praise their efforts and let them know they are doing a great job.  

Use Flexible Thinking Methods in Class

Part of building resiliency in our students in giving them the opportunity to have flexible thinking. What is flexible thinking? Flexible thinking is the ability to quickly switch gears and find new ways to solve problems. Kids who struggle with flexible thinking often have trouble coping with change. We don’t want our students to have trouble with change so that is why this skill is so important.

So here is a scenario: You have a student in your class who is really good at reading. However, it’s time to challenge them with a new book they have not yet read. They struggle through the words and give up because it is too hard. They are thinking to themselves that they are not as good at reading as they thought. They don’t want to do it anymore. That is rigid thinking. A child with flexible thinking will say “I know I am a good reader and I need to practice more so I cam become ever better!”

Flexible thinking is tough for everyone! Shoot I know that even as a teacher sometimes it is hard for ME to do it. But with time and lots of practice your students will be able to have great skills.

Practice a Growth Mindset with Students

Let’s consider an example. Imagine a teen doesn’t get chosen for a sports team that they really wanted to join. They might first think, “I’m horrible. I’m just going to give up this sport.” With a change of thinking, though, they might think, “This just wasn’t my time. I wonder how I can improve. Maybe this is a chance to try another sport.”

A growth mindset with students is another way they can get develop resilience. It helps your students turn their “I can’t” into “not just yet.” This is a great shift to have for students and will allow them to thrive in the classroom and outside as well. When a student is struggling with something and saying that they are terrible at a task what can you do? Help them reframe their mind and say “if you practice you will get better.” “Practice and you will improve.” Growth mindset is especially important with students who are doing new skill sets. They are struggling and what to give up. By have them switch their thinking they will be more successful with more self confidence.

Practice mindfulness in the classroom

Mindfulness in the classroom is a great way to get students into a flexible pattern of thinking. We are not thinking ahead, of what could happen but rather focusing on right now and how we feel in the moment. This practice is one that will help students deal with setbacks since we are thinking in the present.

A strategy for mindfulness is to have a mindful journal for the students. This allows them to check in on the emotions and how they are feeling. It also helps them to stay present in the moment. This mindful journal that I offer is digital so students can use it on their devices.

Practice gratitude in the classroom

This is something that I have been doing for a couple of years now intentionally in the classroom and it does make a huge difference. Discussing what we are grateful for in our lives helps the students shift their mindset into one that is happier. It helps them to calm and see that they do have a lot of positive in their lives.

I know that there are times when it can be so hard to find the good, but practice this daily and over time it will be easier for your students to see it in their own lives. Be sure to check out this gratitude journal to use with your kids.

Remind them that perfection is not a real thing

With social media and everything that kids see these days, it can be hard to tell that that perfection is not real. I know adults that struggle with this concept. However reminding your students that we are all different and that is beautiful a way to help them with their resilience as well as self confidence.

I hope that this blog post has led you to gain some insight on flexible thinking, and will give you some tools on how to make your students more resilient no matter their age. With time and practice it will be something that comes a little easier to them.

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