Fostering Appreciative Resilience

While the virtual format of the EDC 2019 Conference did not allow for fostering new and deepening existing relationships with fellow EDs from other institutions, it offered a rare opportunity for us – colleagues who otherwise work in isolation within the same institution – to connect, learn, and reflect together. The protected time to engage in rich discussions around resilience and well-being in our professional work was invaluable for me as an early career ED; the experience really illustrated that resilience is much more than an internal capacity or attribute – external resources, influences, and environment also play a central role in fostering or depleting our individual and collective resiliency.

appreciative resilience model
Appreciative Resilience Model. By Joan McArthur-Blair and Jeanie Cockell.

Reflecting on the week’s learning, I am taking up on Joan McArthur-Blair and Jeanie Cockell’s challenge during their keynote and articulating my preliminary thoughts on how I can foster more resilience in self and others:


At the personal level:

I am committed to “begin with the end in mind” (Covey, 2004) and to gather more “intentional evidence” in my own work by articulating my goals, identifying appropriate evidence to evaluate success, and designing the process to minimize the intention-impact gap (Hoessler, Ives, & Martin, 2019). The promise of specific and evidence-based feedback offered by this structured framework resonates deeply with me. This systematic approach of intentional evaluation may also offer inspirations or even opportunities to engage in action research.

At my own institution:

It was apparent that we thrived when we connect with one another and share our successes and challenges at work; I would like to be intentional in supporting resilience in my colleagues and in instructors. I am committed to proactively in reaching out to those whom I work with – simple check-ins to acknowledge their work and to invite informal discussions, with goals to make them feel appreciated and cared for (Wetherall, Hannon, & Martin, 2019). Relationships require effort and social investment to blossom and deepen; I hope that I will help foster resilience in others by fostering our mutual relationships.

Beyond my institution:

I enjoyed the collegial collaboration in creating our EDC presentation with fellow early-career EDs across the country (Building bridges instead of walls: Drawing on collective wisdom to navigate the contradictions of educational development as an early career professional). I felt that this supportive learning community is instrumental in regenerating my sense of resilience, motivation, and hope in my work. Having a safe space to celebrate our successes and to share our struggles with each other reminds me of our individual and collective capacity to support resilience in ourselves and in others.

Going back to “Hope” in Joan and Jeanie’s Appreciative Resilience Model, perhaps we may even be able to influence our environment – institutional culture and structures – to further foster resilience!

How do you foster resilience in yourself and others?


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