Promoting Resilience in Higher Education
The disposition to be people-centred is at the basis of Jude’s experience; in her teaching she aims to “find ways to get people engaged as a group or in small groups that are not threatening to people.” For Jude, her “main thing is not upsetting or putting anyone in a bad situation.” It is important for Jude and her co-teaching partner “to maintain a sort of energy, to laugh and to have each other’s back.” They talk explicitly about the need to be alert, positive and mindful and this enables Jude to maintain confidence, which is “kind of a personal hurdle.” The idea of focusing on character strengths in the lessons rather than teaching pre-determined curriculum like medieval history, energises Jude because the focus is open to possibility; for Jude it is important to be “creative in your approach.” Her confidence is also developed through the positive relationships developed with the students during the initial observation lesson. “I felt confidence because we’d gone in previously and met them and built up a rapport”, she says. Jude strategically stores the positivity gained during the first VIA class taught “as a vision to keep in your mind”, which she can purposefully draw upon in the future. “In the future, when I encounter difficulties, I know that I’ve done it in the past, and I can do it again,” she comments. In these moments Jude shows her capacity to reflect in metacognitive ways on the impact of her own emotional responses and to be self-directed and purposeful.
In the second VIA lesson Jude purposefully activates the disposition to critically attend to what occurs in the classroom context; she does this with a people-centred focus. She is not as confident in her use of technology as her partner and so she “wanted to take responsibility for that.” While her co-teacher works individually with students, she positions herself at the front of the room from where she gains “an overview of what was going on.” With a whole class perspective she attends critically to her teaching and to her role in building a positive dynamic between students and with her co-teacher. This perspective allows her to create visualisations of how she might contend with future teaching scenarios: “to also imagine stuff.” She imagines how she might interact with students if she were the only teacher in the room. She comes away feeling critical of herself but a people-centred disposition which enables her to see value in talking things through with significant others, helps her to maintain positivity, set directions through reflection, and be responsive: “I had a talk with my mum and sort of got it all out and I thought to go on with a negative mindset wouldn’t be helpful for anyone.”