Resilient Teachers, Resilient Schools
Building and sustaining quality in testing times
Routledge – 2014 – 174 pages
This book unpicks the complex, dynamic blend of individuals’ psychological and professional assets, workplace conditions and leadership support which enable teachers who stay in teaching to continue to make a difference in their careers, regardless of shifts in policy, workplace, professional and personal circumstances.
Whilst much has been written over the years about teacher stress and burnout, there is very little research which reports on the conditions which are essential for teachers to sustain their commitment and effectiveness over their professional lives, in contexts of challenge and change. Drawing upon a range of educational, psychological, socio-cultural and neuro-scientific research, together with vivid accounts from teachers in a variety of primary and secondary schools internationally, and from their own research on teachers’ work and identities, the authors discuss the dynamic nature, forms and practices of teacher resilience. They argue that resilience in teachers is not only their ability to bounce back in extremely adverse circumstances but that it is the capacity of teachers for everyday resilience which enables them to sustain their commitment and effectiveness in responding positively to the unavoidable uncertainties inherent of their professional lives.
The authors conclude that resilience in teachers can be nurtured by the intellectual, social and organisational environments in which teachers work and live, rather than being simply a personal attribute or trait, determined by nature. Resilient Teachers, Resilient Schools will be of key interest to policy makers, head teachers, teachers and training and development organisations who wish to improve quality and standards in schools.
‘Everything you wanted to know about teaching and have been constantly asking – you will find it all addressed within this impressive book that will be a landmark text for years to come. Through comprehensive coverage and thorough analysis of the international research on teaching, including their own foundational contributions, Day and Gu masterfully show what it takes to teach, teach well, and keep on teaching well in the face of anything and everything. This is the most expert analysis of teaching we currently have, and the most original discussion of professional resilience in the field.’ - Andy Hargreaves, Thomas Brennan Chair in Education, Boston College, USA
‘This book is a gem. Day and Gu have drawn on a comprehensive array of studies to convincingly argue that traditional, psychological notions of teacher resilience overlook the complexity of teachers’ work and lives. Their renewed analysis points to the vital importance of individual, relational and organisational factors in influencing the ways teachers develop the drive, strength and optimism to ‘make a difference’ to the success of their students. For teachers and their leaders, this book promotes hope and optimism rather than despair, agency rather than resignation, and pro-action rather than reaction, in the face of significant challenges to teachers’ resilience. This thoughtful tome is a ‘must read’ for those charged with providing the conditions that ensure that our students have dedicated, skilled, and effective teachers in every classroom.’ - Bruce Johnson, Professor of Education, University of South Australia, Australia
‘In this pioneering study of teacher resilience, Christopher Day and Qing Gu demonstrate again why they are among the world's leading researchers today on the lives and work of teachers.’ - David T. Hansen, Weinberg Professor of Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education and Director of the Program in Philosophy and Education, Columbia University, USA
‘This is a landmark book. Drawing on empirical research by the authors and by others, it weaves together a scholarly emphasis on relational versions of resilience with concerns about the quality of education, teacher retention and teachers' well-being. Above all it points to what can be done in schools to nurture and sustain teachers as valued professionals. I am convinced that school leaders, researchers and teachers will keep returning to the evidence presented here.’ - Anne Edwards, Professor of Education, University of Oxford
‘This book makes a significant contribution to our understanding the complexities of teachers’ work and their lives in schools. It examines and develops the concept of teacher resilience and how the complex interplay between education policy, and the social cultural and intellectual environments in which teachers work shapes how they manage their personal and professional lives. The concept of ‘everyday resilience’ is woven through the book through examples of teachers’ personal narratives. These authentic voices of teachers give the book a vitality and authenticity.
Day and Gu demonstrate the significance of community among teachers and the importance of mutual care and support to sustain their passion and commitment for teaching. The development of a shared set of values and moral purpose reinforces teachers’ commitment to their role, which the authors argue needs to be nurtured and sustained. The data presented in the book helps us to hear, feel and experience the struggles teachers experience in their multifaceted lives in and outside of classrooms. This is an important and timely book, it should be read by teachers, policy makers and students.’ - Judyth Sachs, Professor and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Provost, Macquarie University, Australia
Part 1: The Nature of Teacher Resilience The Nature of Resilience: Interdisciplinary Research Perspectives. Why the Best Teaching and Learning in School Requires Everyday Resilience. Well-Being, Emotions and the Importance of Care Part 2: Building Resilience in Teachers: Conditions Count Identities and Commitment in the Workplace: the Role of the Vocational Self. Teacher Development, Retention and Renewal. Workplace Factors which Promote Resilience Part 3: Why Teacher Resilience Matters Resilient Leaders, Resilient Schools. The Role of Resilience in Teachers’ Career Long Commitment and Effectiveness: Evidence from the Field. Beyond Survival: Sustaining Teacher Resilience and Quality in Times of Change.
Christopher Day is Professor of Education at the University of Nottingham, UK.
Qing Gu is Associate Professor at the Centre for Research in Schools and Communities in the School of Education, University of Nottingham, UK.