Professional development models for educators, students, parents and the community
Criteria for a Resilience Promoting School
Leadership Strategy for Resilience
Suggestions for Meetings with Senior Administrative Teams
Using a case study to demonstrate an approach to building resilience
Generate dialogue by introducing the following case study and questions: Jamie is 14-years-old but attends school only three mornings a week. His guidance counsellor has been working with his social worker, teachers, principal and older sister, with whom Jamie lives, to make school a place where Jamie feels he belongs and can succeed. It’s not been easy.
Jamie’s mother is in a drug treatment centre. He has moved homes at least six times in the last four years. He has been the victim of abuse at home and racism in his community. Though his attendance at school is only part-time, he spends much of the time he is not in class at a local Friendship Centre for urban Aboriginal youth. He says he likes being there because people rely on him to help carry heavy things or sit at the door and check people in and out of the Centre.
At school, his teachers are trying to make him feel like he belongs just as much. They’ve tailored his curriculum to include modules on Aboriginal culture and history; he’s been asked to help with a school fashion show where he’ll be able to build the stage and even perform as one of the models; he is allowed to come to school after the other students arrive and leave before the lunch break so he can avoid contact with the youth who have been bullying him; the staff all call by name when they see him in the halls; his resource teacher makes weekly calls to his sister and mother, when she is available; the school principal has sat in on several case conferences with social services to help ensure Jamie remains where he is now residing and won’t have to change schools again. All these efforts are working well. Jamie’s attendance is improving and he reports feeling much safer both at school and at home.
To many, Jamie doesn’t look resilient, but he is. In a context where almost two thirds of youth from his ethno cultural background do not complete high school, or become delinquent, Jamie has much to be proud of. His resilience, though, is hidden, contextually specific. His school is having an immense impact on engaging and supporting him as he strives to remain safe and avoid the many perils he faces in his community.