A Resilient Approach…


As a teacher of 20 years’ experience it’s so good to hear about a resilient approach in teaching and leadership. This week I had the pleasure of attending a Top HoD day organised by Gareth Johnson, hosted at Yarm School, listening to teachers and leaders as we discussed resilience.

Teaching teenagers we are often challenged by phrases such as – “I can’t do this, I am rubbish at maths”. As leaders we hear our colleagues say “ I haven’t got time, that’s not my job.” We discussed parents expecting A’s for their child irrelevant of their effort, - “that is the job of the teacher.” We can either accept this or challenge – in our discussions we decided to challenge.

Gemma Atkins of Ampleforth College delivered an interesting discussion of how they had approached this problem and dealt with it. Using the work of Carol Dweck we discussed the value of a growth mindset over a fixed mindset and its transformational effect in schools. Her work illustrated how praising a student for effort rather than intelligence resulted in better grades. She followed this up with the work of Moser, Schroder, Heeter, Moran and Lee which found that a growth mindset worked the brain more effectively than the fixed mindset.

Planning with a growth mindset approach enables us to think, to engage, to listen, and to grow the understanding of our people – be they students or staff.  

We looked at the importance of language and poor examples – the teacher who told the student they were the best they had ever seen in a particular sport (and the result a lack of effort in the student). Or the report that “X was a natural chemist but lacked hard work” (were they born good at chemistry?). Or the teacher who says – “We have done it this way for the last 10 years and it’s worked – why change?”.

And the teacher who believes in each student and encourages through engaging with the word – YET – “you can’t do it yet”, or the suggestion to use the phrase in answer to a question “Maybe …. And ….”

We considered the effect of children not failing in school, and learning from their mistakes. In fact, could the first time some children “fail”, be not passing their driving test on their first attempt? – 17 years of always succeeding, how is that going to help?

We looked at Famous Failures – Thomas Edison, Lionel Messi, Ophrey Winfrey and the impact of framing on their failures.

When Gemma started at Ampleforth 18 months ago with a wealth of experience as a head of department she knew Ampleforth needed more than just a new director of sport. And so, began a programme of resilience training for her staff and her sporty students. Focusing on them and their needs she used the wealth of knowledge from Sport and Beyond to deliver a series of training programmes. The result is a growing culture of resilience training, growth mindset and a changing belief in the students that they can achieve and they are just not achieving their potential – yet!

Everything we do at Sport and Beyond is about developing people – in schools this means their staff and students. For more information on our innovative approaches to developing students and staff please contact nickyh@sportandbeyond.co,uk.