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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Resiliency: The Bobo Doll of Success

Recently, in one of my classes, we've been discussing resiliency. Prior to reading any of the literature, I had always thought of resilience as a gift certain people are just born with, like an aptitude for math or athletic ability. To my surprise, resilience is influenced by both environmental as well as genetic factors. A big external influence on resilience is having a relationship with a caring adult.

From what I saw during my practicum experience, it seems to me that caring adults gravitate toward particular students rather than the students turning to them for help. Further, I feel that the students usually evoke a positive response from the adult due to a high aptitude or ability that the adult also has an interest in. For example, the head football coach mentors the best player because he sees his athletic potential, and maybe that vote of confidence transfers to other aspects of that student's life in order to help him succeed. The bad part of all this is that I feel that the students who are consistently average or even below average go unnoticed because they don't have that one standout characteristic.

As you head out in the field, do you think it's possible to play the role of the caring adult for students who may go by the wayside because they do not possess an outstanding skill or quality? Further, do you think that you'll be able to sell yourself in a way that the child truly believes that you believe in him or her? Or, do you think that children will be able to see right through you?

The blog was created by Vincent Balestrieri


judy said...

So far, I’ve gravitated toward the neediest students. That’s not going to change when I get a job. I do hope that I get as assignment where I will have some “wiggle room” - time away from IEPs to actually affect some change in needy students – the withdrawn, the left behind, the average kid who needs some positive adult attention…..

I don’t think students will see through any of us, because we all care. A lot. There’s nothing to see through. j

Rosa said...

Vinnie, I completely agree with you! I feel the same way. In my experience, I have noticed that the students who get noticed in special ed are the ones with behavior problems. The ones that are nice and quiet continue to fall by the wayside.

I think that what we are basically discussing here is human nature.
As Judy said, she's attracted to the neediest children, the football coaches are attracted to the ones they notice the most athletic potential in, the behaviorists are attracted to the children with behavior problems, others are attracted to kids with autism. Every child has some characteristic that may make him or her stand out to someone. For me, any child that comes my way that presents with a problem becomes my area of interest and gains my attention. Luckily I believe that resiliency is not based on one factor. What I'm saying is, that all kids will have a chance based on some characteristic if not in school, then at home, in the community, or whereever. To me, this is what makes resiliency so rewarding!

christen0518 said...

Wow what a powerful question Vin!

Similar to Judy, I have always been drawn to the “under-dog”… you know the kid who throws chairs at you, curses you out, the one with the poorest hygiene, the scapegoat, etc…

To me, it is these kids who will have the most difficult time overcoming adversity because of what you say… research shows that people are attracted to attractive people, talented people, and son on… so what happens to the least popular kid?

For me, I think the ability to form a connection with a kid also depends on your own life experiences… it is likely that some practitioners will not have the endurance to sit in a room with a child and be called every name under the sun, or restrain a child while he spits all over you (but we must always remember, they are doing this for a reason… something happen in their life that is contributing to these behaviors)…and there are some that will able to sustain such behaviors…

I feel that there will be a person for every child. After all , we all enter this field for a reason. For me, my parent’s divorce (among other things) has contributed to my ability to work with children with severe acting out behaviors and aggression…(Research shows that children of divorce have a high rate of resiliency). For you, you may be drawn to kid X for reasons X, Y and Z. I am sure your reasons to mentor a child are very different than mine and this will reflect who you choose as well. I am hopeful that we really can “save the children” because there are great people like all of us out there!