17 Ways Teachers Can Build Resilience

17 Things Resilient Teachers Do (And 4 Things They Hardly Ever Do) 
By Bryan Harris
(2021, Routledge/Eye On Education – Learn more)

Reviewed by Laura Von Staden

Bryan Harris defines stress as the perception of a loss of control – and he goes on to say that “lack of control” is synonymous with the lives of most teachers.

So how do we maintain our focus, motivation, and effectiveness over a full career? Truth be told, many people do not stay in teaching – they just find it too stressful and too demanding. But for those of us who remain committed to this career, this calling if you will, we must be resilient through it all.

Harris shows us how we can build that resilience not just in ourselves, but in our students as well (although teachers are the focus of this book).

While some of the topics covered have been highlighted before – steps like taking care of yourself, reframing the situation, accepting change as part of life, having a support network, unplugging – Harris’s helpful book explores these and other ideas in a whole new light.

Practical how-to’s and great tidbits

In this quick-to-read book, Harris offers us practical how-to’s, such as questions to ask ourselves to help us reframe, but he also gives us great tidbits, such as shifting your language from “I have to” to “I get to” (pg. 18).

Harris briefly explains the interconnectedness of the various areas of resilience to each other and to our overall state of being, and how simple actions can change our brain chemistry to make major shifts in our lives, allowing us to be more resilient.

Each of the brief chapters (only 4-5 pages long) concisely give us a quick summary of the idea and a dig-deeper section that explains the idea further, including connections, brain chemistry and other research that supports each particular aspect’s role in creating resilience.

This discussion is followed by applications, presented in a concise bullet-point type format, that are direct, to the point, teacher focused and easily implemented.

A great resource for all educators

Harris reminds us that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it (pg. 64) and that life is sometimes unfair, but so is grace, mercy, favor, courtesy, and forgiveness (pg. 98) which we need to also give to ourselves (pg. 89), not just others.

Filled with great tips and tons of helpful references in a concise easy-to-access format, Harris’s book provides a genuine resource for us to use to help us through this “exhaustingly hard, emotionally taxing, tremendously rewarding” (pg. xi) endeavor we have chosen as our life’s work.

This is a must have book for every educator at every level. Get it, read it, mark it up and tag it, then keep going back to it to help with the implementation to build resilience and help you to focus on the most important things in your life and your career to both give, and get, the best out of each day.

Dr. Laura Von Staden is currently a Middle School Gifted Science teacher in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees in her school district, works closely with the local university, and writes curriculum. She is also a professional development consultant and previously served as an Exceptional Student Education Specialist, a mentor, and a special education leader in an all-boys middle school. Find all of her MiddleWeb reviews here.

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