As our nation’s schools reopen, two populations, teachers and students, once again come together striving to create safe and productive learning environments. The difference this year is the extreme vulnerability of both of these populations following the Coronavirus Pandemic. Research reveals children have likely been experiencing unprecedented emotional stress over the past few months of isolation.
Many children are experiencing worry, anxiety and fear. They fear contracting the virus and possibly dying, a family member dying, or hospitalization or receiving medical treatment. Children may no longer have a sense of structure and stimulation the formal school setting once provided, and now have fewer opportunities to be with their friends or receive the social support essential for good mental well-being. In addition to fear, children who do not understand the unusual COVID-related changes occurring in their lives may suffer from anger, irritability and economic/food insecurity.
Teachers are also struggling with insecurities surrounding their current economic survival and personal health. At the same time, they are burdened by the decision of whether or not it is safe for them to return to work, the unknowns of the classroom structure and future learning outcomes, how to keep themselves and their students physically and emotionally safe, and how they will help students struggling with the aftermath of trauma. In reality, much about the future is unknown, and that uncertainty, without resiliency coping mechanisms, leads to stress, fear, and anxiety.
Never before have educators and students faced such challenges or needed the powers of resiliency. Not only are the mental health needs of students greater than ever, teachers experiencing their own trauma will be expected to care for their students. How can we help? By providing teachers with the resiliency training they need to build positive coping skills and effective self-regulation tools needed to overcome these COVID-induced adverse conditions.
Learner outcomes will address the following domains:
The ability to effectively cope with unique stressors and challenges needed to ensure wellness with a focus on:
- Adaptability and mindfulness
- Sustaining positivity
The ability to adopt and sustain healthy behaviors needed to enhance health and wellness with a focus on:
- Understanding the link between physical and mental fitness
- Improving performance leadership
- The value of overall health – Endurance, Nutrition, Recovery, and Strength
The ability to engage in healthy social networks and relationships that promote overall wellness and optimal performance with a focus on:
- Strengthen alliances: confronting problems in a manner that shows respect for the relationship, lowers the intensity & finds resolution
- Foster ways to build healthy support systems – Communication, Connectedness, Social Support, and Teamwork
The ability to strengthen a set of beliefs, principles, or values that sustain an individual’s sense of well-being and purpose with a focus on:
- To strengthen a set of beliefs, principles, or values that sustain our sense of well-being and purpose
- Core Values, perseverance, perspective, and purpose
Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from a negative experience or difficult challenge. Being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t experience adversity, but it can help you weather difficult times. Individuals who use a broader range of coping strategies experience less distress from stressful life events. Providing staff and students with coping strategies and effective self-regulation skills will help them balance their mental, physical, social and spiritual well-being. Teachers and students will need to work together to overcome obstacles and come away stronger and wiser than before. Resiliency training and practice are the keys to unlocking post-COVID success.
- Bun Lam & McBride-Change, 2007
- (WHO Briefing, April 2020). (USA Today, May 2020).
- Resiliency Training: US Military, 2019