How can schools build resilience?

Building Resilience
in Children and
Young People
How Can Schools Build
Teacher Professional
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
Building Resilience is based on research which highlights the
importance of taking a multi-dimensional school-wide approach to
building resilience. It assists schools to:
• Partner with the school community, including families and local and
community services
• Lead activity across the school, orchestrating a comprehensive approach
• Teach social and emotional skills to all students across all year levels
• Support those young people identified as needing additional assistance
• Refer those in need to appropriate services
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
Schools play a key role in promoting resilience
• Schools have a significant role to play in promoting the
resilience and positive development of children and young
• Schools build resilience through programs which:
 Establish a safe, supportive and inclusive environment
 Build positive social norms
 Generate a sense of connectedness to teachers and
 Explicitly teach social and emotional skills
 Generate commitment to the academic goals of the
Clonan et al. 2004; Seligman et al. 2009
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
A Positive School Climate Makes a Difference
A positive school climate is associated with greater
levels of belief amongst students that teachers can
be a useful source of assistance for issues related to
violence or bullying
Eliot, M., Cornell, D., Gregory, A., & Fan, X. (2010). Supportive school climate and student willingness to seek help for
bullying and threats of violence. Journal of School Psychology, 48, 533-553
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
Group Activity: What do we do? Do we need to
• What are we doing to ensure all staff use a
positive approaches to managing student
• What strategies do we use to identify and
address bullying?
• Where do we teach the skills for positive
• How do we demonstrate the we have high
expectations for student learning and behaviour?
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
What is Positive Psychology?
• A recent branch of psychology
• Term coined by Martin Seligman and Mihaly
• Interest in wellness and optimal functioning
• Research into
strengths, virtues and values
states of ‘flow’ or heightened engagement or immersion
Seligman, M., Ernst, Randal M., Gillham, Jane, Reivich, Karen, & Linkins, Mark. (2009). Positive education: positive psychology
and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35(3), 293-311.
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
What is a Strength Based Approach?
Taking a strengths-based approach entails emphasising and building on the
strengths, capabilities and resources of staff and students
Research in the field of positive psychology emphasises the value of building
 Social and emotional competency - via explicit teaching of SEL
 Positive emotions - by designing policies and programs that encourage a
sense of belonging, school pride, and optimism
 Positive relationships - between all teachers and students and amongst
the student cohort
 Engagement through strengths - assisting students and staff to know and
use their strengths
 Purpose and Optimism - creating opportunities for students to develop a
sense of meaning and purpose through pursuit of civic goals
Alvord & Grados, 2005; Clonan et al., 2004; Masten, 2009; Noble & McGrath, 2008; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi,
2000; Waters, 2011
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
The 24 Character Strengths *
Love of learning
Social intelligence
Appreciation of beauty
*Based on Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification written by Christopher Peterson and
Martin Seligman; Oxford University Press and the American Psychological Association, 2004
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
Group Activity: The Strengths Debate
• Assign each small group one of the 24 character
• Give them time to prepare a case in which they
argue why this character strength is essential to
success in the teaching profession
• Invite players from each group to make their
• After the presentation, discuss strategies to
foster and use these strengths in the staffroom
and the classroom
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
How can I investigate my own character strengths?
• Take the strengths registry survey by going to the
authentic happiness website
• This is a well-validated tool developed by leading
positive psychologists Martin Seligman and
Christopher Peterson
• Have your students take the strengths registry for
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
• What are my top character
• How do I use my strengths in
the classroom?
• How do I use my strengths
when working with my
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
Useful Links
• Principles of Health & Wellbeing (DEECD) guides professional
practice in Department health and wellbeing services, early childhood
services and schools. Building Resilience is particularly relevant to the
“social and emotional wellbeing” component of these underpinning
• The Achievement Program (DEECD) provides guidance for a wholeschool approach to working towards health priority areas:
• Positive Psychology
• Building Resilience online:
How Can Schools Build Resilience?
Catalano, Richard F., Haggerty, Kevin P., Oesterle, Sabrina, Fleming, Charles B., &
Hawkins, J. David. (2004). The Importance of Bonding to School for Healthy
Development: Findings from the Social Development Research Group. Journal of School
Health, 74(7), 252-261.
Clonan, Sheila M., Chafouleas, Sandra M., McDougal, James L., & Riley-Tillman, T.
Chris. (2004). Positive psychology goes to school: Are we there yet? Psychology in the
Schools, 41(1), 101-110.
Durlak, J.A., Weissberg, R.P., Dymnicki, A.B., Taylor, R.D., & Schellinger, K.B. (2011). The
Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of
School-Based Universal Interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432.
Rowe, Fiona, & Stewart, Donald. (2009). Promoting Connectedness through WholeSchool Approaches: A Qualitative Study. Health Education, 109(5), 396-413.
Seligman, M., Ernst, Randal M., Gillham, Jane, Reivich, Karen, & Linkins, Mark. (2009).
Positive education: positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of
Education, 35(3), 293-311.
WHO. (2014). What is a health promoting school? School and youth health. Retrieved 24
February, 2014, from

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