The Desperate Need for Building Resilient Learners

Ding. Another news story in the past year that is devastating, disheartening, and a reminder that the reality of staying home, wearing masks, and missing out on the benefits of life light up the phone screen more often than it should. What this has meant for schools  in the past years are shutdowns and online learning – but in the face of a challenge as big as the Coronavirus pandemic, the decisions that we make in the classroom can give us the courage and resilience to face the world outside. 

I can remember sitting in my sixth grade classroom, gripping my pencil in frustration because of that math problem that I couldn’t solve and after many tries wanting to give up. And as an instructor, I can see my students having that all knowing- frustrated face when the material gets tough – add the distractions of social media on the next tab. Even as an undergraduate student, my focus is tested. Although, what can seem like little decisions during this tumultuous time can be a lesson learned for what it means to be a resilient learner.

Resilient learning has different meanings to all of us. Tutor Zone instructor, Steven Uyeno states that the ability to “…preserve through hardships, difficulty, distractions – those who can power through are a resilient learner […] I think it’s definitely through small things. Reassurance is key[….]I think by making things more personal – trying to get to know them and their story […] can help them use that in the long run, in school, and everywhere in life.” Personal connection is and just a bit of encouragement and acknowledgment can make a big difference. If our students have someone that they know believes in them – and vocalizes their encouragement- a math or english lesson can shift to be a life lesson on resilience. 

Cheyenne Penfold has grown to be a resilient learner through teaching, adapting from a different curriculum from her home state, Texas, to the curriculum in Southern California “I am always trying to learn more and try to understand – we learn differently, […] I have students that say ‘no that’s not how my teacher taught me’, and I had to stay up and learn the way they have been learning. By channelling  the spirit of resilient learning through  her teaching by rephrasing her questions. Cheyenne strives to achieve what she describes as a ‘lightbulb’ in her students. She states, “It astonishes me how resilient they are and how fast they can learn something if questioned differently […] withstanding the different barriers as a student and a lifelong learner – that lightbulb [moment] is what allows resilience to happen.”

The skills we build as students, inside and outside the classroom, are the lessons that set us up with the tools to overcome obstacles. With a time such as Coronavirus, when everything is uncertain and unplanned, the ability to adapt to a situation and push through, is a lesson that we can all continue to develop online through remote learning at a Tutor Zone class. A lesson in the classroom can be a learning lesson that later in life our students can look back and be proud they pushed through – and we can be proud we played a small part in their success. 

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