Resilience is the ability to recover from stress despite challenging life events that otherwise would overwhelm a person’s normal ability to cope with that stress (Smith et al., 2008). Students with more resilience tend to have better mental health and wellness and academic outcomes (Johnson, Taasoobshirazi, Kestler, & Cordova, 2014). Being able to bounce back from difficult experiences can mean coping after a bad grade or recovering from a stressful life event like the loss of a loved one. Fortunately, resilience seems to be a malleable psychological factor that, with work and time, can be strengthened. Studies have shown resilience is linked to mindfulness, a sense of purpose in life, an optimistic outlook and active coping styles (Smith, Epstein, Ortiz, Christopher, & Tooley, 2013).
In Fall 2017, I had taught a required second-year undergraduate course for the eighth time, and I took a very different approach. I mentioned to the students that I had struggled with specific topics in that same course when I was an undergraduate student. I told them that I had reordered the traditional presentation of the topics in the class to make it easier to grasp the more difficult concepts. I received several thank-yous during the semester from students who were repeating the course and had been overwhelmed by one of the more difficult topics due to the traditional order of topics.