Why resilience is key to student success in uncertain times

A teen sitting at a desk wears a face mask and raises her hand.
Ella Palmer laughed while raising her hand in Deb Coy's government class for seniors at Carlton High School on Sept. 8, 2020, in Carlton, Minn.
Alex Kormann | Star Tribune via AP 2020

Throughout this week, we’ve been talking about the mental well-being of kids as they get back to the classroom. On Thursday, we explored the importance of resilience in schools.

Over the past 18 months, kids’ lives have been disrupted by change, challenges and uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread social unrest and more.

That’s where resilience comes in. Schools, nonprofits and employers in Minnesota have been supporting people’s mental health during the pandemic through resilience training.

For example, the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health has been providing free webinars on building resilience in children and families.

But what exactly is resilience?

Dr. Lauren Marlotte, director of learning and development for the Nathanson Family Resilience Center at UCLA, told host Tom Crann that it’s “the ability to not only bounce back from adversity but to even grow and change.”

Resilience is about more than just “pushing through things” or “keeping your head down,” Marlotte added. To get through difficult times, people need to talk about how they’re feeling and come up with effective strategies — that’s true resilience.

“Resilience is absolutely something that can be learned,” Marlotte said.

Skills such as emotion regulation, communication, problem-solving, goal-setting and managing stress reminders can be taught formally in class or informally throughout the school day, Marlotte explained.

In the face of so much tumult, it’s essential that we help students grow their resilience so they can “tap into their best academic selves, their best social selves” in the new school year, Marlotte said.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

This series is part of Call To Mind, an initiative from MPR to foster new conversations about mental health. Learn more at CallToMindNow.org.

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