First meters of a marathon

By Kasper Nugteren, intern at the department of teacher education

The Covid-19 pandemic shook our personal and professional lives like a pair of maracas during a cha-
cha. Except you weren’t dancing or having fun in general, because you were stuck indoors during the
worst of the lockdowns, being a couch potato and not working on your resilience. Or were you?
For many, the pandemic has been an exceptionally trying time (yes, the use of the present perfect
continuous is deliberate). This especially holds true for teachers, who were widely subjected to fast-
paced organizational adaptations on top of the relatively high level of stress the teaching profession
already knows (Federkeil et al, 2020). All the more important it seems to learn everything about your
resilience as a teacher in order to start bouncing back. Now that you’re familiar with all the
hallmarks of a resilient (pre-service) teacher and some very helpful modules to help you become one
(if not, check out, you might feel a little overwhelmed by all the
information and strategies presented to you. It’s important to realize, however, that you have likely
already been working on your resilience, especially during and after the pandemic. Thus, in order to
get the most out of your continued journey as a fully resilient all-knowing renaissance person post-
pandemic superhero, I’d like to reflect on some thoughts surrounding the importance of recognizing
your own self-made resilience.

Whether you are a student, a starting teacher or an experienced teacher, it’s likely that you
have already stumbled upon a number of personal weaknesses (zero is also a number, of
course). Maybe you’ve even looked for ways to compensate for your weakness by actively
working on it and bettering yourself. Kudos to you! While this can be educational, the
emphasis, at first, will lie on a negative aspect of yourself. This might not help you to assert
and maintain a constructive outlook on the long term. Instead, try truly compensating for
your weaknesses by recognizing and emphasizing your strengths (García-Álvarez, Soler &
Achard-Braga, 2021).

‘To each their own’ is an expression that’s also relevant to resilience. In order to learn about
resilience, it’s important to recognize certain qualities that a resilient person would have.
However, these qualities don’t all converge into one picture perfect resilient person,
because a person like that doesn’t exist. Some strategies might work for you, others might
not. Nevertheless, in order to carefully personalize your toolkit when it comes to resilience
and well-being, it is always a good idea to communicate about it with others (Bento et al.,

Personally, I find it all too easy to believe in one ‘Hail Mary’ that cures all of my problems
and negative thoughts, as soon as I’ve completed this one task/found this one solution.
Especially when it comes to my life as a student, there are deadlines and exams, a.k.a.
mountains, to be conquered. And once the top has been reached, it’s only a casual stroll
downhill from there, right? Except, I’ve learned, you actually cannot expect the next
mountain to be the last you’ll have to climb, but you CAN expect yourself to become a much
better and more experienced (resilient) mountain climber.

I personally consider the benefits of self-care (and healthy living, if you’re into that) a goal in
and of itself; not just a means to an end, when that end means to achieve something in your
study or career. In order to experience working on resilience as a little less of a daunting
exercise, it might be helpful to kick off your to-do list with something you know for certain is
going to help you gain some courage for the next one hundred items.

Easier said than done, right? Building resilience is an incredibly reflective process and a strong case
for the benefits of trial-and-error. This might make it seem like a huge leap, especially because of the
pandemic. However, recognizing your own resilience could be a useful first step towards its
advantages in the long run.

Bento, F., Giglio Bottino, A., Cerchiareto Pereira, F., Forastieri de Almeida, J., & Gomes Rodrigues, F.
(2021). Resilience in higher education: A complex perspective to lecturers’ adaptive processes in
response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Education Sciences, 11.
Federkeil, L., Heinschke, F., Jungmann, T., & Klapproth, F. (2020). Teachers’ experiences of stress and
their coping strategies during Covid-19 induced distance teaching. Journal of Pedagogical Research,
, 444–452.
García-Álvarez, D., Soler, M. J., & Achard-Braga, L. (2021). Psychological well-being in teachers during
and post-covid-19: Positive psychology interventions. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 769363–769363.