Real and resilient: how teachers
sustain their effectiveness
This chapter explores further the ways that teachers manage and sustain their motivation and commitment in times of change, by examining the role of resilience in enabling teachers to respond positively to challenging circumstances which they may meet over the course of a career. Portraits of three resilient teachers are provided in order to illustrate the range of professional assets and external factors and the interaction between these which, together, contribute to the positive role that resilience plays in enabling teachers to thrive, flourish and sustain their effectiveness. The chapter raises issues of leadership and colleagueship, pupil–teacher relationships, pupil behaviour and parental support; and it locates resilience in the discourse of teaching as emotional practice.
Resilience is of importance in teaching for three reasons. First, it is unrealistic to expect pupils to be resilient if their teachers, who constitute a primary source of their role models, do not demonstrate resilient qualities (Henderson and Milstein 2003). Second, teaching is a demanding job in an emerging 'age of diversity and sustainability' (Hargreaves and Fink 2006: 16). Third, resilience, defined as the capacity to continue to 'bounce back', to recover strengths or spirit quickly and efficiently in the face of adversity, is closely allied to a strong sense of vocation, self-efficacy and motivation to teach which are fundamental to a concern for promoting achievement in all aspects of students' lives. In the VITAE research, teachers were found to have common characteristics and concerns within six professional life phases (see Chapter 5). In these groupings there were those whose commitment was being sustained and others whose commitment was declining. As we will