HOW ARE WE PREPARING OUR STUDENTS TO BE RESILIENT?
Recently, my friend’s 18 years old son applied for 7 universities and got rejected. As a result, he fell into depression!
I saw in my friend's eyes and heard in her voice the mere whisper of a confession. No, she was pleading guilty! Guilty for not raising her son to be stronger. Guilty for not preparing him for the downhills of life and the unexpected setbacks. Guilty for being over-reactive and overprotective. Guilty for not giving him the chance to make mistakes and to learn from them. Guilty for not instilling in him resilience!
I could not stop thinking about my friend's torments and questions “did I do the right thing? Where did I go wrong? What did I miss?” It made me wonder about my role not only as a parent but also as an educator. How are we preparing our students to be resilient?
Students will greatly benefit when their social and emotional aspect of development is addressed first.
High school students face daily pressure to make the right decisions regarding their future, such as choosing a major, applying to universities, and deciding whether they should pursue their education abroad. This is inevitably stressful, and it is an absolute necessity to foster their resilience!
As a matter of fact, students at all levels and from a very young age face various challenges. I have worked for more than 20 years in schools and I have witnessed how students' emotional and social well-being impact every aspect of their lives.
Are we as parents investing in our children's social emotional well-being?
Are we as educators mostly concerned about teaching subjects' content and academic skills? How much are we teaching our students self- awareness, self- regulation, and coping skills?
Great emphasis has been placed lately on inclusive education. Schools in the UAE are expected now to meet the needs of diverse learners in the classroom. Various intervention programs and strategies have been communicated to educators through trainings and workshops. Despite the great intentions and all the efforts, students with special educational needs are still vulnerable in coping with everyday school demands. They will particularly benefit when their social and emotional aspect of development is addressed first.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs need to be part of the schools‘ curricula.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs need to be part of the schools‘ curricula. These programs can provide students with the opportunities to learn and practice key skills such as cooperation, managing conflict, making friends, coping, recognizing and regulating feelings, and resilience (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011).
Research also shows that teacher’s interpersonal behavior has a powerful effect on student learning and on their social wellbeing and resilience (Van Uden et al., 2014).
While we address students' challenge, we should never ignore the pressure that teachers face on a daily basis to meet students' needs. Not only we should teach students to be resilient, but school leadership has a responsibility to look after teachers and enhance their resilience as well.
Time to Transform
It is about time to consider a whole school approach, where each member of the school community plays a role in promoting a supportive school culture that fosters collaboration, diversity inclusion and resilience among all stakeholders’ including students, teachers and parents.
About the Author
As an educational consultant with more than 20 years’ experience in education, Mona Baba Merii works with schools in the UAE to implement inclusive education and advises learning support staff. Her responsibilities entail working closely with English and Arabic teachers to improve the quality of teaching and learning as well as meeting the needs of diverse learners.
She provides trainings and workshops in various educational topics such as differentiated instruction, reading comprehension strategies, learning difficulties, dyslexia, higher order thinking skills, and gifted and talented.
Mona holds a Master of Arts in Education degree from the University of London, Institute of Education and recently has successfully completed the TPC Leadership Coaching Program.