Resilience As The Main Feature Of A Teacher

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Resilience is the ability to cope during adverse situations and to move forward in a positive way. Pre-service teachers are faced with challenging situations that can be stressful, isolating, and can create negative well-being but learning to be resilient and possessing the skills and strategies to deal with challenging and adverse situations can ensure longevity in a teaching career. Through building and maintaining support networks, ensuring positive well-being and work-life balance, and maintaining motivation through ongoing professional development, a pre-service teacher will learn the skills and strategies of resilience. Resilience is a skill that is beneficial for teachers as it can have a positive impact on their students. Resilience can directly impact the job satisfaction, engagement, self-efficacy, and motivation of a teacher (Day, 2008, p. 259-260) so it is essential for the profession considering that between 25 to 40 percent of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years (Milburn, 2011). Resilience is not a characteristic that a person is born with but can be learned and developed over time through awareness of thoughts, behaviours, and responses which act as protective factors in adverse situations (American Psychology Association, 2014). The BRiTE program (Mansfield, Beltman, Broadley, Weatherby-Fell & MacNish, 2018) is a resource for pre-service teachers to build and learn to be resilient through expert findings, activities, experienced teachers’ opinions, and resources.

Building relationships and maintaining support networks are essential for a pre-service teacher to ensure they feel support, can build confidence and resilience. Papatrajanou and Le Cornu (2014, p.100-106) stressed the importance of relationships with more experienced peers, which can offer guidance, support, collaboration, and strategies that pre-service teachers can rely on. Through these support networks, pre-service teachers to reflect on their own practices, deal with adverse situations and build on their confidence and resilience. These support networks also enable teachers to be confident in making challenging professional decisions to meet the needs of their students (Churchill et al., 2018, p. 70-71). Factors such as policies and practices, and school culture can affect how a pre-service teacher views on their own skills and abilities, which can influence retention rates and as a result, supporting and mentoring new teachers should be viewed as a joint responsibility within the school community to create a positive culture (Caspersen & Raaen, 2014, p. 189-211). The BRiTE (Mansfield et al., 2018) module relating to Relationships emphasised the importance of building and maintaining relationships to build and maintain resilience.

Well-being is our overall opinion of how we think and feel about ourselves and how we use strategies to deal with daily situations to live a fulfilling life (Kidsmatter, 2012, p. 29). Well-being includes mental health, maintaining motivation and a healthy work-life balance. When a teacher does not have a positive opinion of themselves they can feel incompetent within the classroom which can lead to stress. This is particularly evident for pre-service teachers who lack experience and strategies in dealing with challenging situations in the classroom (Capan, 2012). One important factor of positive mental health is emotional resilience, which is an attribute that enables a teacher to enhance their coping skills and persist through negative teaching situations and environments (Cohen, 2009). Maintaining motivation to persist in a teaching career is based on three factors; intrinsic, extrinsic, and altruistic which inspire people to enter the industry (Watt and Richardson, 2008). Teachers who value their students and are motivated by intrinsic rewards are more inclined to be persistent and implement coping strategies to overcome stress (Doney, 2013). Dworkin (2009) stated that health professionals believe teaching is a highly vulnerable occupation where teachers can become stressed and burn out. It is imperative that teachers implementing self-care habits into their schedule by making time for themselves, family, and friends as well as a healthy diet and sleep which was evident in the BRiTE (Mansfield et al., 2018) module for wellbeing.

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Ongoing professional development can create opportunities for pre-service teachers to build on their communication and problem-solving skills and maintain motivation, which results in strengthening resilience ( To build resilience, teachers should always be striving to meet personal goals for themselves and their students. Tsouloupas et al., (2010) explained how teachers, who doubt their abilities, are unable to effectively communicate and problem-solve effectively which often results in emotional exhaustion. By learning to set goals, pre-service teachers are able to monitor their own progress, seek advice and reflect effectively. Marland (2007) explained how goal setting is aligned with technical, practical, and critical reflection, which directly affects self-regulation. Students, like teachers, can become self-regulated learners who are resourceful, self-motivated, and persistent which Tait (2008) explained were able to move forward positively and set new goals after dealing with a difficult situation.

A resilient teacher can implement supportive strategies when a student is dealing with an adverse situation such as learning a new task, dealing with a learning disability or difficult home life (Churchill et al., 2018, p. 316). Teachers must be able to build the student’s skills to cope with adverse situations and focus on their learning. The Declaration of Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA, 2008, p. 4) cites resilience as a goal individuals should strive to achieve. It is a capability embedded within the Australian Curriculum, which teachers should foster into their teaching (Churchill et al., 2018, p. 237) to enable students to not only cope with adverse situations at school but in life.

A resilient teacher is motivated and persistent, flexible and adaptable, can manage their emotions, and cope with stress with the support of relationships and support networks. Setting goals enables reflective practices, which strengthen confidence and builds resilience. When a teacher is resilient, their ability to cope with diverse and challenging situations will not only benefit themselves but their students. The BRiTE (Mansfield et al., 2018) modules raise awareness of strategies to implement during challenging situations and highlights the skills needed to ensure the pre-service teacher and students in their care can build resilience.

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