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.



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.


Fostering Positive Classroom Environments

Many educators and researchers consider the classroom environment as the third teacher, an additional resource for children to engage critical thinking and enhance their learning experiences.  Creating a creative classroom environment can be extremely effective in early childhood education programs.  In Cortes (2013) dissertation she discusses how teachers’ design of a classroom environment can be an effective tool in literacy instruction.

Research determined that children can spend more than 10,000 hours in early childcare programs before beginning their primary education.  Classroom environments should inspire children to explore and learn in an environment that is comfortable, safe and fun.  Using a case study design with participant observations interviews and literature reviews, Cortes selects a university laboratory preschool to conduct her study.  The literature review for the study is divided into four sections: child development laboratory schools, cognitive and development design methods and tools, and preschool design knowledge.

Adding to her breadth of knowledge, Cortes selects Cutler et al. (2012) research on laboratory schools utilized as places of inquiry.  Laboratory schools provide avenues and environments for researchers in education to collaborate with educators and students using the Reggio approach to education.  McBride & Hicks (1999) study on teacher training and research examines the relationship between teachers, researchers, parents and other community officials working in collaboration on child development in early childhood education.

Cortes utilizes another study of McBride with other collaborators as they research new models and approaches to early childhood education and development in the 21st century.  Another critical review that Cortes bases her study on is Rinaldi’s (2006) discussion on Reggio Emilia approach to learning in early childhood education.

  Reggio Emilia methodologies of documenting, observing and interpretation of children’s responses to classroom activities is considered to be one of the more prominent assessment tools, as well as training tools for teachers, used in early childhood programs.  Fostering nurturing environments for children to thrive emotionally, socially and intellectually requires several of the resources and tools that Cortes identifies and evaluates in her dissertation. “By combining many different elements in the classroom there is a sense of “rich normality” that allows a great variety of activities and learning experiences to take place”, (p 15.)

The inclusion of Guy et al. (2012) research on literacy environments supports Cortes argument that classrooms are living environments that add to the learning experiences of children in early childhood education.  Cortes states “The design of a classroom that promotes free-play activities by providing literacy props has been found to positively affect the interest that children show in including literacy behaviors while they play”, (p 25).


Cortes, C. (2013). Designing literacy rich classroom environments for young children: A study of teachers’ design processes and tools (Order No. 1546891). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1460288065). Retrieved from

Cutler, K., Bersani, C., Hutchins, P., Browne, M., Lash, M., Kroeger, J., Brokmeier, S., Venhuizer, L., & Black, F. (2012). Laboratory schools as places of inquiry: A collaboration journey for two laboratory schools. [Electronic version]. Early Education and Development & Development, 23(2), 242-258. Retrieved February 5, 2013, from 89

Guo, Y., L.M. Justice, J.N. Kaderavek, and A. McGinty. The literacy environment of preschool classrooms: Contributions to children’s emergent literacy growth. [Electronic version]. Journal of Research in Reading. 35.3 (2012): 308-327. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from http://

McBride, B. A., & Hicks, T. (1999). Teacher training and research: does it make a difference in lab school program quality? [Electronic version]. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 20(1), 19-27. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/0163638990200105.2012.647609

McBride, B. A., Groves, M., Barbour, N., Horm, D., Stremmel, A., Lash, M., Bersani, C., Ratekin. C., Moran, J., Elicker, J., & Touissaint, S. (2012). Child development laboratory schools as generators of knowledge in early education: new models and approaches. [Electronic version]. Early Education & Development,23(2), 153-164. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from

Rinaldi, C. (2006). In dialogue with Reggio Emilia. listening, researching and learning. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.


Welcome to my blog.  I’ve spent more than half of my adult career working in telecommunications.  Before completing my undergraduate degree in Communication Studies, I had an “aha” moment which pointed me towards getting additional knowledge and degrees in Early Childhood Education.  My goal is to put this knowledge to use in a second career as an advocate for children and educators.  My passion is to work with educators and researchers in bridging the gap in childhood literacy.

Language and Literacy Journey

My first reading club facilitation, a few years ago, I was excited to introduce a group of fourth and fifth graders to the world of reading.  Every Saturday for two hours, we read the adventures of Felicity and her love of words.  To connect the kids to the story, we talked about places they lived or visited, made rhymes out of the words and even made a song using the words learned. Two things I learned from my first session: the children enjoyed word association and the games we played as we read the book; and lastly, to keep the boys engaged I needed to find books that showcased their interests.

When I started the project for the language and literacy journey, I had no idea what direction I would go.  I decided to let the writer in me decide.  Lavy starting off with strong language and literacy skills until an infection left her hearing impaired. Lavy also was born to naturalized parents from Ecuador and Jamaica.  Throughout the project I also envisioned Lavy with strong reading skills.  Her problems were more related to speech, along with low self-esteem.  In the project I presented an action plan that involved music, reading and full participation from her father, her extended family , her speech and hearing specialist and her teachers.  By the end of the project, Lavy had successful overcome many obstacles and her speech had improved tremendously. In retrospect it would have been nice to actually researched and observed Lavy’s overall performance from grades 1-4, that included how well she mastered other social skills, math, science and social studies.

Although Lavy was a character of my imagination, there are hundreds of children that experience her same dilemna everyday.  The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA, 2016)  recommends that therapists and teachers incorporate the following interventions: motor skills planning, sensory cueing, linguistic and rhythmic and providing more than one or a combination of theories and practices.  As an advocate for reading, it’s important to remember that literacy encompasses speech, writing, phoenics, vocabulary and comprehension.  All of these skills are required not only for academic success but success in life.

What I’ve learned from this course is invaluable.  Parts of these discussions and assignments I will carry forward as I continue to advocate for reading clubs and programs throughout my county and school district.


American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). 2016.  Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  Retrieved from

Lloyd, Natalie (2014).  A Snicker of Magic. Publisher: Scholastic Press.




Author: Felicia Farrwk4assgnfarrf-extension_harwellresponse


I have a little boy who is bilateral deaf (hearing impaired in both ears).One ear can hear about seventy percent of words spoken while the other ear is completely deaf. My language and literacy journey has been difficult when it comes to hearing impairment. Cochlear implants seems to cure all unless severely deaf. To continue, […]

via Sharing Your Language and Literacy Development Journey with Your Community of Practice — Educator Expecting Excellence Journal