Building resilience in students: give them roots and wings

Teachers can act as their students’ strongest supporters and life coaches, assisting them in acquiring the knowledge, abilities and resilience they need to face life’s challenges

Cheong Fan's avatar
24 Mar 2023
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Building emotional resilience in students is a key goal

One of our roles as instructors is to foster our students’ resilience, self-advocacy capabilities and life skills while also giving them a safe educational environment to return to. Self-esteem is crucial for a student’s motivation and academic success, as well as for their social interactions and ability to bounce back from setbacks. Resilience when facing stress enables students to better cope with life’s inevitable ups and downs.

Although there are few absolutes in life, changes and transitions are a given. Hence students must cultivate resilience and adaptability skills. The objective is to foster our students’ problem-solving abilities in a progressive, age-appropriate manner (for example, aimed at ages 18 to 24) as they mature and become more independent. The fact is that a student’s resilience, flexibility and capacity for making adjustments and transitions are often indicators of how successful they will be.

Setbacks offer an excellent chance to show your students how to be resilient and cope. Your students will pick up resilience from your example and acquire life skills they will require as adults.

Role and value of teacher support

Studies reveal that a student’s relationship with a caring, supportive and approachable teacher – someone they can rely on and trust – is among the keys to their resilience. Schools can use several tactics to improve routines, support students’ developing self-confidence and life skills, and help them handle change well. The good news is that if students have a chance to experience failure at a young age, they can build resilience and acquire the skills they will need to manage problems as adults.

Model positive attitudes and behaviour

Teachers can do and say many things to help their students develop the skills they will need for their post-study lives. They can model attitudes and behaviour they want their students to adopt. Students must be guided into situations that reward and reinforce these values. Whether responding to individuals less fortunate than themselves or picking what foods to eat, students’ behaviour is partly an imitation of behaviour they have watched. For example, teachers can demonstrate compassion to others and the campus can provide healthy food choices to their students while reinforcing good eating habits.

Listen and get to know your students

Instructors must actively listen to their students to understand the messages they are trying to impart. The more a teacher shows that they care and understand their students, the better equipped the students will be to collaborate and overcome obstacles when they occur. Students benefit from a sense of being loved and accepted. Excellent teachers make an effort to get to know their students well. Fewer personal and societal issues will arise for students whose teachers get to know them. For example, teachers can ask general, open questions that might allow students to raise social issues that concern them.

Share experiences

Effective communication is founded on respect for one another, sharing similar experiences and being able to express one’s thoughts and feelings freely. Teachers will discover much to admire and respect by focusing on each student’s talents and character.

Don’t limit support to the classroom

Teachers must stand up for and support their students in various contexts. Instructors should be involved in their students’ lives (such as extracurricular activities or programmes) and assist them in developing resilience and problem-solving abilities.

Helping students help themselves

Teachers should remember that it is not their responsibility to solve all their students’ problems as they progress through the academic years. Instead, they should foster students’ self-empowerment abilities to improve resilience and life skills.

Teachers might be tempted to provide solutions for all their pupils’ problems, but they should instead encourage them to address them with the appropriate level of support. This will help each student acquire self-control and life skills. A student will be better prepared for the more challenging obstacles he or she will face in the future thanks to these gradual experiences with life’s inevitable setbacks. When supported in this manner, students become resilient, self-assured, capable of taking risks and creating and achieving goals, and sensitive to and respectful of others.

Teachers can act as their students’ strongest supporters and life coaches, assisting them in acquiring the knowledge, abilities and resilience they need to face the challenges that are part of living. Early triumphs over adversity can produce a lifetime of inner strength, resilience and the capacity to master new obstacles.

Cheong Fan is a lecturer at the Macau University of Science and Technology.

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