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Developing a language for resilience (part 1 and 2)
13 Feb 2017
Part 1: (first uploaded 13th February 2017) As a starter project  in a new school the Centre  spoke with Years 5 and 6 children about resilience; one of the school’s priorities. We used a range of stimuli such as; video clips, challenges, as well as speaking and listening strategies such as thinking time and both A/B and ‘spy’ talk together with independent and collaborative learning in order to explore:
  • the language of resilience;
  • the emotions associated with resilience
  • the ‘benefits’ of becoming more resilient

The children’s responses were then used to facilitate a staff meeting. The structure of which replicated what the children had experienced earlier in the afternoon. The school is now addressing the following four questions.

The school has decided, in partnership with the Centre, to use an ‘action research’ approach. Two teachers will be supported over the Spring Term to focus on the four key questions, the process and outcomes will be reviewed, developed and shared with the rest of the school as a stimulus for a ‘whole school approach’. At the first ‘action research meeting’ we reviewed the work with the children in Years 5 and 6 together with the feedback from the staff meeting. As a result of this the teachers have set themselves some targets namely:

  1. To agree a ‘school based’ definition of the term resilience. This will be linked to other learning taking place in school - such as their GREAT DREAM (focused on furthering children's aspirations).
  2. To engage children in a range of stimuli to explore feelings and record on a  ‘graded washing line’ (a tool that allows the children to assess the importance to them of these stimuli as they discuss where they fit on the washing line).
  3.  To establish a ‘cycle of resilience’ that demonstrates to the children the process  (or steps in) in being resilient.
  4. Develop a bank of words and/or phrases that teachers can ‘para phrase’ and   model for children.
  5.  Capture the children’s understanding of resilience with  pictures, diagrams, quotes, photographs and more - so that it can be evaluated and hopefully shared.

  Part 2: (First uploaded 2nd March 2017) At the second 'action research meeting' we reviewed the 5 steps above. Two members of staff had created the  ‘graded washing lines’ (point 2 of the original targets) for the children to use to discuss and assess their emotions. These will increasingly become a tool that can be applied in different contexts furthering the ability of the children to explore, discover and communicate their feelings about their learning.

The school is now working on creating a  'school based' definition of the term resilience, which will have meaning and application within their learning community.  Staff are also testing out using symbols to help communicate these ideas with their younger children. This will all be reviewed later in the year and it will be interesting to see how terms such as 'responsibility’ become a focus as the children start to manage their 'resilience' based learning.  We look forward to sharing these developing attributes of resilience, an interesting early example -  ‘we know how to change our emotions from negative to positive’.

Another practical tool that staff are testing out is a ‘cycle of resilience’. Next steps: Develop a range of activities to explicitly ‘test’ resilience including:

  1.  Over four to five days present the children with a range of the activities introducing the ‘circle of resilience’ in an agreed order.
  2.  During the week above try to capture the ‘essence’ of resilience through annotated photographs, 'post-it' notes, pupil voice, teacher observations.
  3.  Continue with the ‘emotional washing line’.
We look forward to sharing more on this project.