Academic and Personal Resilience

Long time, no post!

Welcome to the new academic year. I have enjoyed a very good break and I have to say it was needed. 2010 will not go down as the best year in my personal or professional experience. A colleague gave me a Christmas card at the end of the year that said something like “Have a good holiday, recharge the batteries and we’ll do it all again next year”. The very thought of doing 2010 again depressed me considerably. Crying was done. Maybe, I thought, it was time to reconsider where I was professionally and what I wanted to do. Could I do what I do again? In an improved fashion that still retained some meaning for me?

BUT….I met my new classes last week and my engagement has been renewed. I just love working with young people, helping them to see that they hold within them a flame, a flame that can burn bright with new knowledge and deeper understandings, a flame that inspires themselves and those around them to make the world a better place. Teaching is a great profession and it really is, more than just the truism of the words, a privilege to be a part of these students’ progress as learners.

So, what are my goals for this year? One of my main focus points will be encouraging staff and students of mathematics to know what it means to be academically resilient and how important this is for success in this subject. Teachers have been given a “Moving On” map (based on the work of  Jill Flack, an Australian primary teacher) to hand out to students with ideas on what to do if they feel ‘stuck’ when doing mathematics problems. They have also been given a copy of the PEEL (Project for the Enhancement of Effective Learning) Learning Behaviours. Hopefully students and their teachers can engage in reflective practice on how they approach their learning and teaching and, by deliberately noticing what elements of their approach might lead to depressing optimal performance, address these elements in a positive way.

In addition, I have asked to give a lecture to our Year 10 students on academic resilience and what this would look like in mathematics. I think that Year 10 is when ineffective and self-destructive learning approaches to mathematics can become cemented as the challenge level increases significantly during this year. Reflecting on behaviours that may be holding back learning and hearing about positive alternative approaches will hopefully both raise awareness and increase the opportunities for more students to experience learning success in mathematics.

One of my slides is as below:

›You can limit yourself and your opportunities to learn ‘stuff’ by your approach to things that challenge you

››What do you believe:

Ø About Yourself?

Ø About yourself in a particular subject?

We all make judgements about others and ourselves that aren’t necessarily true. Stop and re-think.

››If you are holding back your effort then you could be self-handicapping

››“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative” W. Clement Stone

And another is:

›It’s not always about the mark!!

›Become focused on learning something instead of achieving a particular mark. Too often we think the achievement (result) is the be-all and end-all

›Don’t let results determine your effort and level of happiness. If you keep thinking “I’ll be happy when…..” this is a recipe for continual unhappiness and a feeling of a lack of success

››Students with learning goals take necessary risks and don’t worry about failure because each mistake becomes a chance to learn

And my final example:

›If your aim is to look smart all the time, you aren’t displaying an approach that will allow you to experience learning.

›For students with this approach, each task is seen as a challenge to their self-image and each setback becomes a personal threat

›So these students only pursue activities in which they’re sure to succeed and avoid anything that will challenge them

Some of the sites I used to reference this lecture are given below.

The Resiliency Quiz

Resiliency – An Online Course

Kids Health – Resilience

The Resilience Scale

The Resilient Willpower Map

Fostering Resilience in Children

Tween Parenting – What Makes a Good Student?

Best wishes for the year ahead. Be resilient. We are our students’ role models.


About Linda

I have been involved in secondary mathematics education in Victoria, Australia for over 25 years.
This entry was posted in Ideas for teaching & learning, Students, The profession. Bookmark the permalink.

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