Adult Resilience Spotlight – How Do They Bounce Back?
By: Nefertiti Bruce Poyner, Early Childhood Specials and National Trainer, DCRC
“To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” Anatole France
Starting in January of 2011, I embarked upon a journey towards a Doctor of Education degree. This experience has been full of joy, struggle and moments of new found discoveries. The emphasis of my degree is Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. I chose this focus in order to gain a better understanding of how schools plan for and implement curriculum. My hope and desire is to see programs and schools implement more intentional planning around the social and emotional needs and resilience of children and the adults who support and educate them.
As I continue in my research, it has become pretty clear that a paucity of research exists related to the social and emotional health and resilience of educators, both in ECE and K-12. This lack of attention to the well-being of teachers is something that saddens me while at the same time, drives me to read more, learn more and work to implement change. I am required to complete a Capstone project as a part of my Doctor of Education degree. I chose a qualitative, case-study research design to examine strategies that may help promote resilience and mitigate stress and burnout among preschool teachers. Sixteen teachers in a Head Start Program located in Northern Virginia participated in my research study. Combined, these 16 teachers have over 149 years of teaching experiences. They each have overcome the constant change, and other risk factors often associated with work in early care and education. It was a pleasure to learn from each one of them. My study is not complete and I have not yet earned my doctoral degree. However, I want to share what I have learned from the narratives of 16 amazing teachers.
Great teachers bounce back by never giving up. So many of the teachers told stories of their struggles. While I listened however, I also could hear their efforts to “look for the bright side.” Giving up on the children, families or themselves is never an option.
Great teachers bounce back by remembering that children will one day be adults. The teachers I interviewed explained that all too often we can get stuck where we are. Great teachers bounce back by never forgetting that the positive foundation we lay today will resonate in the lives of children and families for a lifetime!
Great teachers bounce back by making time for things they enjoy. Each teacher explained the important role friends, spouses and colleagues play in helping them to bounce back. Weekend movies, a walk in the park, or a simple conversation over the phone helps to contribute to the way teachers bounce back.
I enjoyed each moment with these teachers. I will be able to share more as I work through my Capstone Project. Also, keep an eye out for our Adult Resilience eLearning opportunities. We are hard at work to develop something you will enjoy and learn from. Until then, remember to take good care and remember the power of bouncing back!