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Why We Do What We Do

Lately I have been struggling with the concept of mindset and resilience as it relates to adapting to and adopting change. As a former classroom teacher and education technology administrator I was surrounded by change. Over 10 years I taught at  different grade levels, in two different buildings; I taught in a new classroom almost every other year, I taught with new teammates, I had at least 7 different administrators in 7 years -and then I stopped counting. With change came a new set of children with a new set of needs, new curriculum mandates, new schedules, new expectations, new goals, sometimes new technology, but more often than not, fewer resources, and thus, new frustrations.

Every day I put the needs of my students first and worked with colleagues and administrators to provide the best learning opportunities possible. Every day my mission was to put my students first and be a positive role model and leader among my peers. And every time there was a change in leadership I had to start over. Eventually I went back to school to continue my education in education leadership with the hopes of being more effective in bringing about positive change in the classroom. By leading teachers, we could impact more students. When I became a district technology integrator I had the opportunity to lead even more teachers and administrators who in turn impacted even more students. Each time I accepted a new challenge, and a new role, I started from the beginning-building relationships one teacher at a time, leading beside and nudging from behind. I never really thought about resilience, but looking back over my career in education and the positive impact I had, I have to think I was -for the most part-resilient. In spite of the many obstacles and challenges, I showed up every day because I wanted to make a difference in education, and I knew I had something to offer.

Eventually, in each of my teaching and learning experiences, my resilience waned and I no longer had the stamina to fight for what I believed to be good and right. Does that mean I am not resilient in the face of change? I don’t think so.

According to Psychology Today, resilience is defined as:

 the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

Bouncing back from a stressful event or decision is one thing, living in a constant state of stress is another. Resilience is the ability to adjust and adapt to new expectations which may include a change in resources available to do your job, a change in leadership, or it may include a change in your role altogether. Sometimes it is not about resilience it is about differences in vision and direction.

educationengaged learningliferelationshipstechnology

Cathy Brophy • April 14, 2017

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  1. owenfamilymath April 16, 2017 - 12:12 pm Reply

    Very good point about resilient. I think being in education, we all have to be resilient! I do think with all of the change you have faced (and many of us face), you have most definitely been resilient. However, it seems that you make a point about resilient being different than living in a constant state of stress. I feel like with the state of education as it is now, we all live in a constant state of stress at our schools. Do you feel that there is a way to help change this? Maybe the constant state of stress helps to build more resilience?

    I know my principal, when she was interviewing me, asked about how I deal with change because it is practically a daily thing (it certainly is a frequent thing, even if it is not daily). But that constant change can make it tough to “go with the flow.” When the only thing you can depend on is change, it makes it tough to find an end to the stress that is wrapped up in our jobs as educators.

    Are you still involved with education, just on the administrator side of things now?

    Thanks for the thoughts about resilience! It definitely gave me something to ponder.


    • Cathy Brophy April 16, 2017 - 6:45 pm Reply

      Thanks Angie! No apologies necessary!I am not currently working in a school setting, and after spending some time reflecting, I think change is a constant-something you can count on-and sometimes you have to know when and how you can do the most good for the students in front of you. I think there is danger in simply going with the flow, especially when it goes against what your basic beliefs-hence the stress. From experience, having a good professional support system is important, which is why social media networks can be so powerful. Thanks for reading!

  2. owenfamilymath April 16, 2017 - 12:17 pm Reply

    I apologize for the grammatical error. My first sentence should have been, “Very good point about being resilient.” 🙂

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