After each school shooting, violent classroom episode, or student suicide—all too common today—there is talk about resilience in schools. Why is it that some students bounce back from adversity and others do not? Coping and functioning well despite adversity or trauma is resilience.
Schools are recognizing the importance of students’ social and emotional well-being as well as a supportive school climate, more generally, in promoting positive academic and behavioral outcomes. In fact, at the September convening of the U.S. Department of Education Safe and Supportive Schools federal grantees in Washington, states presented data indicating improvements in both academic achievement as well as in student behaviors from three years ago—the point at which the federal grants began that enabled many high poverty school districts in 11 states to implement school climate surveys and programs. Numerous studies show that programs and practices that build resilience are particularly effective in improving the academic performance of low achieving students.
There are a variety of models of resilience out there, each with their research base, and many have interventions to go along with them. Many school districts are asking, “How can we sort through all of these models and interventions to choose the right one for our students?” Child Trends’ researchers offered help to 11 states who have received federal Safe and Supportive School grants, by synthesizing the research and resources available on resilience in schools.
While each model has its favorite components of resilience, we looked across the various models and found that the following components kept re-appearing.
Individual Behaviors, Attitudes, and Competencies
Family, School, and Community Support
Child Trends and our partners on the National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning Environments have compiled resources that can help schools to build resilience in their students. They can be found at http://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/hot-topics/response-and-resiliency. Looking across these resources, here are some strategies that schools can use to build resilience in students.
In addition, here are strategies that schools can use to help students recover from a traumatic event:
Programs that work in schools to build resilience in schools can be found in the Child Trends What Works database as well as SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence Programs and Practices and the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Measures of components of resilience that can be used in surveys and program evaluations can be found on Child Trends positive indicators website.
Laura Lippman, Senior Program Area Director, Education
Hannah Schmitz, Research Assistant, Education