The reality of public school education is that it is both exhilarating and stressful.
Teacher resilience is a relatively recent area of investigation which provides a way of understanding what enables teachers to persist in the face of challenges and offers a complementary perspective to studies of stress, burnout, and attrition (Beltman et al., 2011).
Teacher resilience is defined as “using energy productively to achieve school goals and meet students’ needs in the face of adversity” (Patterson et al., 2004).
Compassion is the combination of the consciousness of others’ distress and a desire to alleviate it. It is a basic quality needed to be able to meet students’ needs.
Compassion resilience for those in the education field is:
- The ability to maintain our physical, emotional and mental well-being (using energy productively) while compassionately identifying and addressing the stressors that are barriers to learning for students,
- Identifying and addressing the barriers to caregivers/ parents and colleagues being able to effectively partner on behalf of children, and
- Identifying, preventing, and minimizing compassion fatigue within ourselves.
Think of this resilience as a reservoir of well-being that we can draw upon on difficult days and in difficult situations. It is a dynamic process or outcome that is the result of interaction over time between a person and their environment (e.g., Bobek, 2002; Day, 2008; Sumsion, 2003; Tait, 2008). Resilient teachers tend to maintain job satisfaction and commitment to their profession (Brunetti, 2006).
This toolkit will explore the protective factors that build and maintain compassion resilience.
In our efforts to build resilience in our students, we are charged with the examination of our capacity personally and professionally to model that which we strive to build.
Our capacity to serve our students and communities are impacted by our personal histories, organizational supports, and the societal context we work in. The toolkit attempts to center trauma and equity informed perspectives that add value in understanding where each individual starts on their path to compassion resilience; this lens also deepens our understanding of what supports can be offered to fuel the energy of a diverse staff that is stretched thin.
Simply stated, compassion fatigue and resilience will impact you differently depending on your history, identity, and social position in the school.
The content of the toolkit has been strongly informed by research and best practices related to resilience, positive psychology, compassion fatigue, organizational psychology, and mindfulness, trauma, and equity.