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Professional development Annotated Bibliography of Teacher Resilience

Leroux, M., Théorêt, M., & Garon, R. (2010). Exploration of the Relations between teacher resilience and Teacher Reflection in Inner-City Schools. Paper presented at the 2010 AERA Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado.

Professional development | Teacher resilience | Teacher- or self- efficacy

This paper aimed at exploring the relations between teacher resilience and reflection. The study cited Masten, Best and Garmezy’s (1990) definition of resilience: “resilience refers to the process of, capacity for, or outcome of successful adaptation despite challenging or threatening circumstances” (p. 425). In this mixed method research design, 23 teachers from underprivileged elementary inner-city schools were asked to complete a Web questionnaire on quality of working life; after that, each teacher was interviewed for 90 minutes. The results showed that the teachers faced challenging working conditions, with three sources of stress identified: heavy workload, lack of time to do the work and hard class management. In the face of such adversities, there were four resilience profiles among the teachers who drew on two dominant protective factors, professional abilities and competences. The resilient teachers were also found to possess problem-solving skills as well as a sense of self-efficacy. Moreover, the data indicated that teacher resilience and reflection could be related. To conclude the paper, the researchers maintained that teacher empowerment and professional development should be given more attention to promote teacher resilience.

Malcom, L. A. C. (2007). Beginning teachers, resilience and retention. (Doctor of Philosophy), Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.

Beginning teachers | Professional development | Teacher resilience

This thesis examined how beginning teachers with one, three or five years of teaching developed resilience and whether their resilience influenced their retention. Resilience is characterised as “an individuals’ ability to adjust and adapt to changes, demands, and disappointments that come up in the course of life” (Morris, 2002). The study involved 14 teachers nominated by their colleagues as being resilient. Data were collected from multiple sources, namely nomination forms, semi-structured interviews, critical incident analysis, electronic journals and field notes. The analyses showed that factors that contributed to teacher resilience comprised personal attributes (building of positive relationships, humour, positive attitude, sense of purpose, faith, initiative and creativity) and environmental factors (interactions, freedom to try new ideas, supportive colleagues, mentoring, and professional development). Several resilience strategies were identified, including seeking out positive relationships and recognising and accepting offers of friendship from colleagues, having a sense of purpose, creating positive support systems, acknowledging their strengths and trying to improve their weaknesses, seeking out good mentors, being reflective and considering multiple choices. To conclude, the researcher argued that it is important for teachers and administrators to understand resilience and its cultivation. It was also contended that positive relationships and collegiality need to be promoted to build resilience.

Mansfield, C. F., Beltman, S., Price, A., & McConney, A. (2012). "Don’t sweat the small stuff:" Understanding teacher resilience at the chalkface. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28, 357-367.

Beginning teachers | Emotions in teaching | Professional development | Teacher resilience | Teacher training

This study explored graduating and early career teachers’ perceptions of teacher resilience. Within the study, resilience was argued to involve “dynamic processes that are the result of interaction over time between a person and the environment and is evidenced by how individuals respond to challenging or adverse situations” (p. 358). A survey with such constructs as teacher efficacy, motivational goals for teaching, self-perceived competence and satisfaction with teacher preparation program was administered to 259 graduating and early career teachers. The response rate was 77%. The analysis of the content and emerging themes indicated the multi-dimensional nature and complexity of resilience. The participants perceived resilience as a process of development happening over time and as a combination of motivational, professional, emotional and social strengths. From that, a four dimensional framework of teacher resilience was proposed. The data also highlighted the significance of both the individual and the context in cultivating teacher resilience. The article concluded with a number of implications for teacher education, e.g. emotional development, professional development materials for building teacher resilience, and a multidimensional approach for resilience building.

Manuel, J. (2003). 'Such are the ambitions of youth': Exploring issues of retention and attrition of early career teachers in New South Wales. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 31(2), 139-151.

Beginning teachers | Professional development | Teacher retention/attrition

This longitudinal study tracks the experiences of six NSW teachers in their first five years of working – from 'novice' to 'master' teacher. The paper outlines current issues in teacher retention and different ways of describing phases of teacher development. It suggests various strategies for supporting new teachers and recommends increased links between teacher preparation programs, employing bodies and individual schools so new teachers can access a range of types of support according to their needs.

Margolis, J. (2008). What will keep today's teachers teaching? Looking for a hook as a new career cycle emerges. Teachers College Record 110(1), 160–194

Mentoring | Professional development | Teacher retention/attrition

This paper reports findings from a one year qualitative study in the US. It proposes that teachers with 4-6 years experience are ideally placed to become mentor teachers to students as they are looking for new roles and to regenerate their own enthusiasm. The study interviewed 7 teachers and provided them with workshops and a web based discussion board which enabled them to support each other.

McCormack, A., & Thomas, K. (2005). The reality of uncertainty: The plight of casual beginning teachers. Change: Transformations in Education, 8(1), 17-31

Beginning teachers | Professional development | Teacher retention/attrition

These authors present the findings of surveys and focus groups with new graduates from a range of teacher education programs at a NSW university who were working as casual teachers. They also interviewed employers and university staff. A large proportion (about one third) of graduates worked as casuals and experienced a lack of formal induction and support, difficulties with classroom management and with using work devised by other teachers. They relied on their own informal networks such as other ex-students for support. Recommendations are made for pre-service preparation for this role, and for support by employers and schools.

McCusker, M. L. (2009). Supporting resilient teachers: Resiliency and dynamic leadership in special education teacher retention. (Doctor of Education), Arizona State University. (3360607)

Professional development | Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

This thesis explored an operational definition of teacher resilience and the role of leadership in fostering teacher resilience in special education. Within the thesis, resilient special education teachers were contended to use their "energy productively to achieve school goals in the face of adverse conditions" (Patterson, Collins & Abbot, 2004, p. 3). The participants of the study were two special education teachers. Data were collected from interviews, analysis of critical incidences, and member checks, as well as evaluation of the effectiveness and usefulness of the interview process and dynamic leadership actions. The analysis of the data revealed that the participating teachers recovered from adversities successfully due to the recognition that their special education students needed them and that what they did was important to their students. The teachers also reported they were able to maintain their resilience due to the support from professional development, administration and school leadership. From these findings, an operation definition of teacher resilience was proposed as comprising multiple subthemes, such as optimism, adaptability, courage, emotional intelligence, fragility and emotional stamina. Moreover, resilience was conceptualised as a continuum, which relates to stress and vulnerabilities. The study was argued to have two important implications for future research and actions. First, teachers should frequently evaluate their own resilience to thrust themselves into a positive resilient mindset. Second, school and district administrators should use appropriate relational leadership strategies to support special education teacher resilience to increase retention.

Meister, D. G., & Ahrens, P. (2011). Resisting plateauing: Four veteran teachers’ stories. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 770-778.

Mentoring | Professional development | Teacher resilience

This article explored factors that kept four veteran teachers from plateauing and helped them maintain their enthusiasm for over than 20 years. Data were collected from interviews where teachers were encouraged to reflect on their career history and career development. Data analysed by open coding and axial coding revealed that all participants experienced periods of frustration through their career life cycles. However, they managed to rekindle their passion about teaching due to supportive leaders (e.g. department supervisors, principals and administrators), student affirmation and external support system (e.g. networking with their colleagues; support from family and friends). As a conclusion, the article proposed that administrators should be aware of the career cycles of teachers and find ways to support resiliency. Moreover, it was argued that mentors and professional development opportunities play a crucial role in cultivating teacher resilience.

Merrill, M. (2013). Teacher resilience in high-poverty schools: How do high-quality teachers become resilient? (Doctor of Education), University of California, Los Angeles.

Professional development | Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

Drawing on Brunetti’s (2006) conceptualisation of resilience as an internal, personal construct that refers to the ability of teachers to “maintain their commitment to teaching and their teaching practices despite challenging conditions and setbacks” (p. 813), this thesis aimed at understanding how high-quality teachers became resilient when teaching in high-poverty schools. The study was maintained to contribute to the resilience literature by targeting at a special group of participants: high-ability college-graduates who have no prior background or preparation in education and who initially agreed on only a two-year teaching commitment through Teach For America (TFA). Data were collected through two phases: first, 72 former TFA corps members were surveyed by an Internet-based questionnaire; second, 14 teachers and 9 former teachers were interviewed. The results indicated that the most common reason veteran teachers left the profession was burnout. Moreover, many challenges the educators in the study confronted included low salary and benefits, not well-regarded by the society, and absence of administrative support. For teachers who stayed, they felt it was adults who were to blame for the failure of the public education system, not the students. They reported deriving the main source of resilience from the positive impact they had on their students, their commitment to teaching, and support from like-minded colleagues and community. They also said that their resilience was enhanced by the ability to take on multiple roles, e.g. involving in athletics, curriculum development, school improvement efforts, and teacher fellowships. The study had two recommendations for practice. First, teachers should be encouraged to take on multiple roles in the school to foster their resilience. Second, teachers should be offered opportunities for professional growth through connections with their students and their colleagues.

Moren, T. L. (2004). Expanding elementary school teaches' resiliency for change. (Doctor of Education), University of La Verne, La Verne, California. (3123129)

Professional development | Teacher resilience

This thesis study aimed at determining the concepts and behaviours used by elementary school principals and teachers that expand elementary teachers’ resiliency for change. Resilience is characterised as “the capacity to spring back, rebound, successfully adapt in the face of adversity, and develop social, academic, and vocational competence despite exposure to severe stress or simply to the stress that is inherent in today's world" (Henderson & Milstein 1996, 7). 12 principals and 24 teachers, 40 per cent of whom had more than twenty years’ experience, were asked to complete a questionnaire developed based on a comprehensive review of the literature on resiliency. The data analysis showed that the principals indicated eight of the nine resiliency concepts found in the literature were important for fostering significant educational change. Moreover, factors such as "sense of responsibility among stakeholders”, "motivation among staff”, "curriculum and instructional programs", "relationships among stakeholders" and "community building efforts" were identified as important concepts for expanding resiliency for change among elementary school teachers. As a conclusion, the author proposed that principals should recognize their strengths related to promoting their teachers’ resilience, and that professional development should include resiliency factor discussions to promote an understanding of the psychological constructs relating to resilience.

O'Sullivan, M. (2006). Professional lives of Irish physical education teachers: Stories of resilience, respect and resignation. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 11(3), 265-284

Professional development | Teacher resilience

O'Sullivan used a life history approach to examine the professional experiences of veteran Irish Physical Education teachers. Themes included resilience with the use of coping strategies, developing respect for the subject and the teacher, and the need for professional support such as PD by employers and local support from the school and community.

Painter, R. L. (2013). Characteristics of resiliency development and adult learning: Examining teacher perspective through narrative inquiry. (Doctor of Education), Regent University. (3573596)

Mentoring | Professional development | Teacher resilience

This thesis explored how the relationship between resiliency and adult learning influenced professional development in one suburban-rural school district in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Within the thesis, resilience was viewed as “a process that occurs over time in relation to personal and environmental conditions” (p. 3). Using a narrative design, six high school teachers were involved in in-depth flexible but structured interviews that elicited stories. Through the data, characteristics of personal and administrative effectiveness for resiliency and adult learning were identified. Traits of personal effectiveness included self-awareness, problem solving, optimism, reflection, leadership, and sense of purpose, whilst traits of administrative effectiveness comprised responsiveness, mentorship, and culture of learning. These characteristics were found to enable the teachers to confront work-related challenges effectively, and thus sustain their resilience. The researcher concluded by proposing that administrators should be aware of teachers’ experience and perceptions of resilience to help them stay enthusiastic in the classroom. Moreover, teacher resilience is more likely to be cultivated if teachers are involved in professional development that shows them how to respond positively to challenges.

Patterson, J. H., Collins, L., & Abbott, G. (2004). A study of teacher resilience in urban schools. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 31(1), 3-11

Mentoring | Professional development | Teacher resilience

These authors interviewed teachers and teacher leaders who have succeeded in challenging urban schools. The reported nine key findings that have particular implications for school administrators. Resilient teachers have a set of personal values that guide their decision making, including placing a high premium on professional development and providing mentoring to others. These teachers were seen to be proactive individuals who take charge, stay focused on their students' learning and do whatever it takes to help their children succeed. Resilient teachers have supportive friends and colleagues, are willing to explore new ideas, and know when to get involved and when to let go.

Rourke, J. (2010). The power of paradox: How high school teachers perceive the navigation of paradox influencing teacher resiliency and student motivation. (Doctor of Education), Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island. (3402120)

Professional development | Teacher resilience

This qualitative study examined the problems of student motivation and teacher resiliency using Palmer’s (1998) theoretical framework. It was argued that teachers feel resilient when their work is recognised and supported by administrators and parents. According to Palmer (1998), teachers possess a sense of self that depends and does not depend on the opinions of others, which is a paradox investigated in this study. Ten purposefully selected high school teachers in south-eastern, Connecticut, in various stages of their careers and from various disciplines were invited to participate in semi-structured interviews to discuss their perceptions of teacher resiliency and student motivation. The results indicated that maintaining the hospitable and “charged” classroom was the most significant factor to bring satisfaction to teachers, providing them a foundation for resilience and motivating students. Another important factor that kept the teachers interested, enthused and resilient was the maintenance of a classroom that was bounded and open. As a recommendation, the researcher contended that teachers should be involved in professional development that introduces them to new ideas so that their enthusiasm about teaching can be sustained.

Ruiz-Mock, M. (2007). Female school leadership, educator resilience strategies, and student outcomes in an English primary school. (Doctor of Education), University of Phoenix.

Professional development | Teacher resilience

This qualitative case study examined strategies used by teachers, teacher leaders, and school leaders to enhance individual and collective resilience. Resilience was characterised as an individual’s capability to adjust to demanding and tense circumstances (Bernshausen & Cunningham, 2001). Resilient individuals were argued to evolve from experienced changes and develop new strategies to overcome changes, instead of simply recuperating (Richardson, 2002). The participants in the study comprised six teachers, three teacher leaders, and three school leaders of a small primary school in the inner-city section of a large metropolitan English city. Data were collected from open-ended electronic questionnaires and Resilient Teacher Interview Protocol. The findings showed that the teachers perceived that teaching was a hard job; 83% of teachers experienced stress and burnout at one point or another during their tenure at this school. However, the teachers employed many factors to support their resilience: opportunities for professional development, work-life balance, strong positive relationships with colleagues, optimistic and holistic perspectives regarding professional and personal experiences, a sense of humour, modelling desired behaviours, finding meaning and enjoying work, a sense of feeling valued, viewing challenges as learning opportunities, solution-focused approach, and student-centred instruction. To conclude the thesis, the researcher pointed out that “schools must implement strategies that promote individual, collective, and school resilience in order to promote school and educational success” (p. 213).

Sammons, P., Day, C., Kington, A., Gu, Q., Stobart, G., & Smees, R. (2007). Exploring variations in teachers' work, lives and their effects on pupils: Key findings and implications from a longitudinal mixed-method study. British Educational Research Journal, 33(5), 681

Professional development | Teacher resilience | Teacher- or self- efficacy

This paper outlines the findings from case studies over three years of a representative sample of 300 English primary and secondary teachers. Comprehensive data collection methods and analysis are described. Key findings related to teacher Professional Life Phases, Professional Identity, Relative Effectiveness and Resilience and Commitment are discussed. The findings indicate that teachers matter more in accounting for differences in pupil progress than schools. Furthermore, the importance of good relationships in a school or department and of a supportive professional context are highlighted. Implications for policy makers are identified.

Sharplin, E., O’Neill, M., & Chapman, A. (2011). Coping strategies for adaptation to new teacher appointments: Intervention for retention. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 136-146.

Beginning teachers | Professional development | Teacher resilience | Teaching rural/remote

This qualitative study identified the coping strategies of newly recruited teachers in remote or rural schools in Western Australia. Coping strategies were viewed as “direct-action strategies focused on stress source elimination and palliative strategies which reduce stress by modifying internal or emotional reactions” (p. 139). Participants of the study comprised 29 teachers newly appointed to 17 rural or remote schools in Western Australia, who were classified into four groups, young novice, mature-aged novice, interstate and overseas-educated teachers. Data were collected from an initial questionnaire, ongoing telephone interviews, site visits, and email contact for up to 15 months. Through these sources of data, case studies were constructed. The results indicated three main groups of coping strategies: Direct-action strategies (getting information; seeking assistance; connecting with others; accessing professional development; reflecting; reframing; and establishing boundaries), palliative strategies (positive self-talk; accepting; using a goal focus; establishing psychological boundaries; depersonalising; use of humour; religious beliefs; maintaining health and wellbeing; and maintaining relationships)and avoidant coping strategies (taking leave, disengaging, and substance use). As a conclusion, it was recommended that teachers should be supported to increase their retention and improve students’ learning experience. Moreover, professional development was also maintained to be an important factor that could help to facilitate teacher resilience.

Waddell, J. (2007). The time is now: The role of professional learning communities in strengthening resiliency of teachers in urban school. In D. M. Davis (Ed.), Resiliency considered policy implications of the resiliency movement (pp. 123-145). Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing.

Professional development | Teacher resilience | Teacher- or self- efficacy

This chapter drew on a 2005 study of 8 elementary teachers in a Midwest urban school district in the United States to examine why teachers stayed. Resilience in the chapter was featured as “the ability to adapt and thus bounce back when faced with conditions that create disequilibrium or adversity” (Bernshausen & Cunningham, 2001, p. 1). Urban teachers were found to face more challenging working conditions than suburban and rural teachers due to overwhelming workloads, challenging students, poor student motivation, lack of administrative support, and low salaries. To combat these challenges, several features were shown to contribute to teacher resilience: perseverance, service, a sense of ownership, and self-efficacy. Indeed, it was their inner drive, their commitment to the profession, their desire to make a difference to the students’ lives that kept them going. Another important reason that made the teachers stay was the feeling of being needed, respected, supported and valued by principals and colleagues, as well as being involved in school decisions. Most importantly, the teachers’ sense of self-efficacy, their confidence in being a teacher, enabled them to overcome challenges and obstacles successfully. A substantial part of the chapter was devoted to the discussion of the role of principals in promoting teacher resilience. In short, the chapter emphasised the role of principals, relationships, support system and self-efficacy as major constituents of teacher resilience.

Yonezawa, S., Jones, M., & Singer, N. R. (2011). Teacher resilience in urban schools: The importance of technical knowledge, professional community, and leadership opportunities. Urban Education, 46(5), 913-931.

Professional development | Teacher resilience | Teacher- or self- efficacy

This paper explored how the National Writing Project (NWP), a national yearly professional development program in the United States, contributed to the development of teacher resilience. In the article, resilience is regarded as being formed in the interaction between the teachers and their supportive contexts. In-depth interviews were conducted with six primary and secondary teachers working in urban, high poverty schools with teaching experience ranging from 25 to 40 years. The participants reported the NWP assisted them professionally in three aspects: technical information, cultural support, and development of individual agency and leadership, which fostered their resilience throughout their career. The teachers felt the project enhanced their efficacy, equipping them with the tools and techniques to improve their capacity to engage their students. Through that, their sense of competence and professional identity was promoted, making them stay through the span of their career. Moreover, attending the NWP also gave the teachers an opportunity to meet and share with colleagues the challenges they faced in urban schools and worked out ways to overcome their problems, something they often missed at their own school because of the school culture and/or politics. The paper concluded that professional development leads to greater teacher resilience and retention, especially in schools with children from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Yost, D.S. (2006). Reflection and Self-Efficacy: Enhancing the Retention of Qualified Teachers from a Teacher Education Perspective. Teacher Education Quarterly (Fall), 9-76.

Beginning teachers | Professional development | Teacher retention/attrition | Teacher training | Teacher- or self- efficacy

This study incorporated qualitative methods to identify the obstacles, the aspects of teacher education that shaped success, and the extent that teachers were able to use critical reflection as a problem-solving tool. The study involved interviewing ten second-year teachers and their principals, observations of teaching, and a follow-up questionnaire three years later. Results of the study supported the view that the development of self-efficacy during teacher training involved opportunities to successfully apply learning in practice, and to critically reflect upon challenges. A supportive school environment was not found to be the most important factor in retaining teachers, since efficacious teachers tended to transfer rather than drop out of teaching altogether.

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