Fostering Supportive Environments – Teacher’s Resilience

Factors that Contribute to Resilience of Early Care and Education Teachers’s

“What is good for teachers is good for children, what is bad for teachers is bad for children”, (Baig-Ali, 2012, p 72).  Teaching is an honorable profession. Millions of students are shaped by the instruction and knowledge presented in learning and classroom environments.  Despite our best intentions to reach every child and keep qualified teachers, close to one-fourth resign during or at the end of each school year (Poyner, 2016).  The reasons are many, stress, lack of support, low compensation, verbal and physical abuse from students, colleagues and parents.  Poyner’s doctoral study examines factors that contribute to the resilience of early care and education teachers that remain dedicated to teaching.

In her literature review, Poyner draws on the research of Gomez (2015), Boyer (2012) and Curby et al. (2013) on how caregivers and early education professionals can help develop a sense of attachment that is critical to brain development in children.  As research has shown, cortisol produces stress in humans, regardless of their age.  A relatively low amount of stress can be managed, but highly stressful situations can cause havoc and create unhealthy physical and mental situations.  As parents, caregivers and education professionals, part of our jobs is to teach children how to handle stress at an early age, and build mechanisms for them to rely on as they age.  In order to teach children how to manage stress, teachers themselves must also find ways to stay resilience in their stress levels.  Stressed out teachers cannot effectively teach students.

The intent of  Poyner’ s study “was to convert theory and research findings into intervention strategies that may help promote resilience and mitigate stress and burnout among preschool teachers in a Head Start Program” (2016, p 4) and find strategies that would promote teacher retention.  Targeting Head Start program teachers in her study, Poyner discovers that more than 80 percent agreed that teaching is stressful, with more than 50 percent qualifying teaching as highly stressful. In her findings, Poyner identifies four cycles or waves of resilience which are protective, promotive, preventative and how one’s genetics history factors into resilience.

“Some stressors from a typical day include facilitating appropriate individual student conduct, developing effective individualized curriculum and learning activities that meet the learning needs of children, and amplified workloads associated with increased demands for accountability including high stakes testing”, (Csaszar & Buchanan, 2015, p 4).  Advocate groups supporting education (NAEYC, Zero to Three, Department of Education) have longed supported that school climates and environments play a major role in how effective teachers instruct and how well students are open to learning in supportive environments.  Another factor creating stress stems from the classroom environment becoming “physically toxic” (Ehrenhalt, 2016, p 10).  According to Ehrenhalt (2016) close to ten percent of school teachers/officials were either attacked or threaten during the 2011-2012 school year.

What fosters and supports a great learning environment?  Having a harmonious space filled with color, creating a peaceful atmosphere helps in promoting a creative classroom for teachers and children to engage.  Fostering relationships with students and their families by understanding their cultural and home environment, lends to building healthy relationships and support systems.  At the early stages of learning, particularly children from the ages of 3-8, forming a healthy bond between caregiver, family and teachers allow for children to feel secure in learning, builds confidence and helps promote healthy brain development (Poyner, 2016; Hudson & Hudson, 2010; Verissimo et al., 2014).

Mentoring from colleagues and school administrators can assist in building resilience and positive attitudes towards teaching.  A recent study of Hong Kong teachers suggest that “encouraging pre-service teachers to join a programme that enhances well-being and stress reduction would be an effective strategy for preventing burnout”, (Hue & Lau, 2015, p 383). Lastly, Poyner implores that “given these implications, it is important for ECE programs to utilize resources to aid in promoting the wellbeing and resilience of teachers”, (2016, p 18).  Healthy teachers equate to having creative and positive classrooms, which produces happy and engaged students.

 

Reference

Baig-Ali, U. (2012). A young teacher’s view of the profession. Education Review, 24(1), 70-73.

Csaszar, I. E., & Buchanan, T. (2015). Meditation and Teacher Stress. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 43(1), 4-7.

Ehrenhalt, J. (2016). I thought about quitting today. Education Digest, 81(6), 9-15.

Hudson, P., & Hudson, S. (2010). Mentor Educators’ Understandings of Mentoring Preservice Primary Teachers. International Journal Of Learning, 17(2), 157-169.

Hue, M., & Lau, N. (2015). Promoting well-being and preventing burnout in teacher education: a pilot study of a mindfulness-based programme for pre-service teachers in Hong Kong. Teacher Development, 19(3), 381-401. doi:10.1080/13664530.2015.1049748

Poyner, N. B. (2016). Factors that contribute to resilience of early care and education teachers. ScholarWorks, Walden University.

Verissimo, M., Santos, A. J., Fernandes, C., & Vaughn, B. E. (2014). Associations between Attachment Security and Social Competence in Preschool Children. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Journal Of Developmental Psychology, 60(1), 80-99.

 

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