Building resilience in teachers
‘Caring professions’ such as teaching can have an emotional toll, leading to high stress levels and career burnout. But tools to develop resilience and healthy engagement strategies are now only a click away.
Although teaching can be a highly rewarding career, teachers experience multiple and complex challenges in a profession that has seen work intensification, increased accountability and calls for improvements in teacher quality. Teacher stress and burnout have become of increasing concern, but in contrast, teacher resilience has been associated with positive outcomes such as teacher quality, enthusiasm and commitment, along with positive outcomes for students.
Associate Professor Caroline Mansfield, in Murdoch’s School of Education, has conducted research focused on teacher resilience and the strategies that enable teachers to maintain engagement, commitment and motivation throughout their career. Her work has underpinned the development of the BRiTE program, an online resource for pre-service and practicing teachers.
The program helps users build their awareness of the skills and practices that will facilitate resilience in their teaching career. The program contains five online interactive personalised learning modules addressing Building resilience, Relationships, Wellbeing, Taking initiative, and Emotions. Throughout each module participants can take quizzes, learn skills and strategies, view videos, apply skills to realistic situations, learn from experts and build their own personal resilience toolkit.
The online learning module design for BRiTE was informed by Mansfield’s extensive research and 15 years of collaborative research evidence, and developed through extensive consultation with stakeholder groups, including pre-service teachers, teacher educators, and resilience experts. The online approach was deliberately chosen to enable flexibility for users, provide opportunity for reflection on personal growth over time and to reach a wider audience.
BRiTE is a freely available resource. Most BRiTE users are pre-service and practicing teachers, teacher educators, and major employers of early career teachers such as the WA Department of Education. Its uptake has been endorsed nationally by the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership, who have adopted aspects of the BRiTE modules in their Induction app for early career teachers. The work of Mansfield’s National Fellowship, Staying BRiTE, has since developed a collaborative network of teacher educators, embedding the resource into teacher education programs at five partner universities across Australia and building an international network of users.
Since the website’s launch in 2014, it has attracted over 31,000 individual visitors, from 148 countries, although the majority of visitors are Australian. Over 7,000 users have created personal accounts, and over 2,000 users have completed the entire suite of modules. Feedback about BRiTE suggests that the module design may also be beneficial beyond the teaching profession, in other ‘caring professions’ such as nursing and veterinary medicine where similar challenges may be experienced.