Keeping teachers teaching, requires resilience. They must weather the storms of student’s behavioral needs and rebound regardless of the challenges such as staffing changes and curricular demands. 

While many jobs have stressful aspects, 70 percent of educators leave the profession within the first 5 years due to physical and emotional illness. This is an alarming attrition rate. Administrators and instructional coaches are acutely aware of the need to help bolster their new staff members’ resilience.

 Meeting with them regularly and holding a compassionate space in which they can genuinely tell it how it is allows for powerful possibilities to emerge. Experiencing discipline issues in a classroom can be unnerving. Resilience means feeling the setback and then springing forward because of it.

Elena Aguilar’s book, Onward, focuses on helping teachers develop a dozen habits that cultivate resilience and the dispositions that help. Such habits include building community, being mindful, focusing on the positive, and accepting change. 

Onward was written to help teachers find the resilience to stick with this noble profession. Resilience is a resource that everyone has, but most could stand to increase it. When they can reclaim resilience, it becomes the fuel required to be in service to those needing assistance. 

Resistant learners puzzle and frustrate educators. Determining the appropriate consequence or reward that’s necessary to motivate students’ movement toward their success requires close scrutiny and inventive creativity.  

Life can be tough and obstacles must be overcome. Developing resilience helps people bounce back after adversity with more strength.  Hardship can bring about greater kindness and aliveness. 

Resilience is more than just surviving. It’s about thriving. Allowing joy to emerge after suffering can really take some coaxing. Often connecting with others and risking moving through the myriad of emotions associated with disappointment is required.

Emotions are within each person’s sphere of control. Doing something about the debilitating ones is a conscious choice. Strong emotions such as fear, sadness, loneliness, and anger can overwhelm even veteran teachers.  

Mindfulness and compassion help deal with daily interpersonal challenges. Viewing the complexity of circumstance and empathizing helps move past the drama in that moment and see more options of how to respond.

Facing challenges with curiosity rather than judgment helps lighten the moment and invite possible solutions. Opportunities to be playful and creative help unlock inner resources and thus expand thinking and deepen connections. 

Resourceful problem-solving fuels courage. Change is inevitable but often requires courage. Patience and perseverance also help to manage and mitigate its effects. 

Celebrating successes by appreciating contributions helps build trust as well as resilience which makes responding to life’s challenges easier. Educators can cultivate resilience by celebrating the bright spots. Creating an environment of collective celebration helps a classroom of students become greater risk takers.

By doing little things, people can make a big difference. Remember that every conversation counts. Every time kindness is applied to a situation, a softer sense of justice can be possible. Each person needs to use their energy where it most counts. 

Behaviors and attitudes affect outcomes. A teacher’s disposition can greatly impact the way a scenario plays out. Self-reflection bolsters resilience and strengthens the motivation to recognize and nurture student potential. 

Aguilar’s Onward book advises teachers who feel disempowered to narrate the events of life in a way that maximizes their potential. Once they identify the limiting storyline, they write a new script. 

Affirmations can build resilience such as “I am a valuable asset to this school.”  Creating new narratives can rewire the mind and release feel good hormones. 

Setting intentions tells the mind how to show up and what to notice. Pay attention to the evidence that backs the declaration of the intention. This too helps the new story emerge. 

Interpret that story to bolster resilience rather than undermine it. Destructive narratives silence previously impactful educators. Teachers that rewrite their story as an epic narrative can transform the world.


, author of two children’s books and a long time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at

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