“Blessed are the hearts that can bend, for they can never be broken.” - Albert Camus
Have you ever heard the story about the old donkey and the well?
Once an old donkey fell into a well. He cried and cried until the farmer heard him and came running. The farmer couldn’t figure out what to do, but finally decided that the donkey was too old and not worth his time to try to rescue. He decided to simply go ahead and bury the donkey in the well. As he began to shovel dirt into the opening, the donkey’s cries stopped. The farmer looked inside and was amazed at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit the donkey’s back, he would shake it off and take a step up. Before long the donkey stepped out of the well and trotted away happily.
The end of the school year can make you feel just like that poor donkey – buried under the demands of assessments, reports, meetings, and packing up. We have to remind ourselves to shake off the dirt and take one step at a time and we will make it. I love this story because it is a great example of resilience. Nan Henderson says that resilience is the ability to “bounce back stronger, wiser, and more personally powerful.” Being resilient helps us to get back up when life knocks us down, and life will knock us down. Resilience is more than a personality trait – it is a process that evolves with conscious effort and practice.
The Devereux Advanced Behavioral Center shares four important areas that aid in building resilience:
1. Building Relationships – Connect with people who support and encourage you through the positive and the difficult times of life. When our relationships are strong, we feel stronger, healthier, and better equipped to work through struggles.
2. Creating Positive Internal Beliefs – The feelings we have about ourselves effect our behavior. Positive self-talk and determination to persevere are tools that motivate us to keep moving forward and become “more personally powerful.”
3. Taking Initiative - Making necessary decisions, taking positive actions, and avoiding procrastination are life strategies for moving forward and bouncing back when problems arise.
4. Developing and Using Self-Control – The ability to manage our emotions productively helps us control our feelings rather than letting our feelings take control of us. Taking a moment to breathe and think rationally helps us to gain the self-control to make good decisions that keep us bouncing back and moving forward.
The building of resilience in our students often depends on our resilience in the classroom. Our children see first-hand how we deal with set backs and the demands of the learning day. Our words and actions often have more influence than we realize. Let’s face it. The end of the school year is tough, but we can shake off the dirt and keep stepping up – just like that little donkey. Then we can trot off into summer break with a smile – ready to recharge and get set for the new school year that is just around the corner.
Check out this Resiliency Quiz by Nan Henderson to assess and strengthen your resilience. http://apps.nacada.ksu.edu/apps/intlconf_media/uploads/handouts/2016/59-H03.pdf