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Decentring the ‘resilient teacher’: exploring interactions between individuals and their social ecologies

Oldfield, Jeremy and Ainsworth, Steph (2021) Decentring the ‘resilient teacher’: exploring interactions between individuals and their social ecologies. Cambridge Journal of Education. pp. 1-22. ISSN 0305-764X

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Abstract

The teacher retention crisis has led to a strong discourse around the need for teachers to ‘build their resilience’, which places the responsibility for coping at the feet of the individual teacher. Contemporary research, however, supports a social-ecological approach, which takes account of environmental influences within the resilience process. This study draws upon five focus groups (28 teachers) to present evidence for complex interdependencies between risk and protective factors within the resilience process. The authors demonstrate the prevalence of indirect (mediation and moderation) effects operating primarily between rather than within ecological levels, characterised by contextual factors predominately influencing individual factors, rather than the other way round. These findings provide support for the notion of equifinality – the idea that there are multiple routes to resilience – and advocate a flexible approach to promoting teacher resilience, involving experimentation and collaboration across ecological levels.

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