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PrinciPALS Podcast Transcript: 1.01: Building Resilience in Children

By Jij de Jesus, Emma Wellman, and Conor Bentley

Listen above or on Apple Podcasts.


In the first episode of The PrinciPALS Podcast, we’re discussing resilience—that essential life skill that empowers kids to bounce back from challenges and stressors. Join Jij and Emma as they chat about what resilience in children looks and sounds like, and share ways that caregivers and educators can work together to build this skill.

Podcast resources:

  • Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth, co-founder and CEO of Character Lab and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania
  • The Gardener and the Carpenter, by Alison Gopnick, professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley
  • The Price of Privilege, by Madeline Levine, psychologist and co-founder of Challenge Success at the Stanford Graduate School of Education

The transcript of this episode appears below.


Conor Bentley (00:01):
From Rowland Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah...

Jij de Jesus (00:04):
I'm Jij de Jesus.

Emma Wellman (00:06):
And I'm Emma Wellman.

Conor (00:07):
And they're the princiPALS.

I'm Conor Bentley, and on today's episode of princiPALS, we'll be talking about building resilience in children.

Emma, Jij, thanks for letting me join you in the princiPALS' office today.

Jij (00:31):
You know, Conor, it's always a great day to visit the princiPALS' office.

Emma (00:33):
Glad to have you.

Conor (00:35):
Yeah, thank you. So, this is the first episode of princiPALS and as such, I think we should probably introduce ourselves to the audience.

Jij (00:43):
Great idea, Conor. I'll go first. My name is Jij de Jesus, again, and I'm the Lower School principal at Rowland Hall, where I have the chance to work with and support around 300 students and their families through the joys and challenges of the elementary years, grades one through five. Prior to what I currently do, I taught for about a decade at an all-boys independent school in San Francisco, mostly fourth grade. And I do still think of myself as a fourth-grade teacher, sometimes as a fourth-grade student, depending on the day.

Conor (01:13):
Mm-hmm.

Emma (01:15):
And I'm Emma Wellman. I'm the Beginning School principal at Rowland Hall, and so I get to support Rowland Hall's youngest learners; we've got preschoolers and kindergartners in our division. Before this, I worked at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in Chicago, where I ran programs for more than 600 kids between preschool and eighth grade. Before that, I founded and ran a small daycare for infants and preschoolers. So early childhood has been a long part of my work.

Conor (01:42):
Wow. Well, and I'm Conor Bentley, and in addition to being a podcast creator and producer, I'm also a proud Rowland Hall Lifer and graduate from the class of 2001, and I also taught and coached in the upper and middle schools for four years.

Let's talk to our listeners for a moment about why you all wanted to start this podcast.

Jij (02:01):
That's a great question, Conor. I think, going back to this summer, doing some big-picture thinking and really identifying that we wanted to find ways to support our community more deeply, both students/families and teachers, and what we landed on was, you know, recognizing that parenting is hard, teaching is hard, and both are a little bit easier when they're done together in partnership. And, you know, when that partnership delivers consistent messages for children, that's when kids really thrive. So, I think that was kind of the genesis of why we wanted to start this podcast.

Conor (02:38):
That's great. So with that, we want to talk about resilience today, and our driving question for this episode, that we want to answer, is: what does resilience in kids look and sound like? And what does it look and sound like when families and teachers help children build it? And before we get into answering that question, let's just define resilience and talk about what it means.

Emma (03:03):
So I think of resilience as anti-fragility. It's like a tree that bends in the wind but doesn't break. We want our kids to grow up to be robust humans who can manage moments of difficulty, who are prepared to confront challenges, and get all the learning out of them. This process is often uncomfortable and messy, but we know that a bit of discomfort is a common sign of learning and growth.

Jij (03:24):
Yeah, it was interesting to hear Sam Goldstein, a local psychologist and expert and educator, talk at a recent Rowland Hall parent forum about the roots of the term resilience. I didn't know that resilience is actually a material science term that describes materials that can absorb energy and then return to its original state, or bounce back. And that idea of bouncing back, it reminded me of those old Timex commercials, I don't know if you remember those.

Conor (03:53):
Oh, yeah.

Jij (03:54):
Those watches that take a licking and keep on ticking.

Conor (03:58):
I still have my Timex and it's still ticking.

Jij (04:00):
There you go. So he talked about the idea of tenacity and this idea of facing adversity and, you know, being able to face adversity and keep functioning, and described the settings in which a tenacious mindset can develop and flourish really require the nurturing and support of caring adults. And, you know, it's interesting, he really broke down the idea that your identity, or who our children grow up to be, is really dictated by their genes and experiences. Right? And he even, like, quantified it, like 90 percent is genetic and 10 percent is experiences. And so, thinking of the grown-ups, whether it's parents, caregivers, teachers, we as grown-ups are architects of our children's experiences.

Conor (04:46):
So when you're talking about that, how can grown-ups, parents, caregivers, guardians, teachers be architects for their children?

Jij (04:56):
Yeah. Sam actually offered up some great specific suggestions. One was just starting off with examining your assumptions about your child's choices and successes, and making sure that your assumptions are about your child and not about you. He also talked about helping children find passionate interests and islands of competence, and figuring out how to support them in pursuing those things. You know, he talked about listening and learning first before advising, and sometimes children just want to be heard when they're talking about something that's difficult or challenging for them. And, finally, I think a big idea here is taking the long view. Right? And not kind of looking at little moments as the thing that's going to dictate who a child becomes, but really thinking of a big picture, that whole 10 percent of experiences.

Conor (05:53):
So what you're saying is that it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Jij (05:56):
Yeah, I think that's right.

Emma (05:58):
Yeah. Another person who's done a lot of work on this and has published a number of articles and has a TED Talk and a book about it, so folks may be really familiar with her work, is Angela Duckworth. She's a research professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She's also been a consultant for the NBA and Fortune 500 companies. And her big notion is about grit. And she talks about grit as being passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. She makes a distinction. This passion isn't about intense emotion, but rather about dedication to the work that you're doing. And what she found through her research with other collaborators is that grit's a better predictor of achievement than is intellectual talent measured by IQ. So it turns out that what we need to do in order to help kids be really successful in the long run is give them opportunities to build up grit and stamina, to stay the course amid challenges and setbacks. Talent, according to Duckworth, won't be enough to lead to success.

Conor (07:04):
Right, it's hard work coupled with talent. I mean, it's the nature/nurture thing that you kind of started talking about. So what else is out there as far as research goes?

Jij (07:14):
Well, one of my favorite researchers in this field is Madeline Levine, and not just because she's from the Bay Area. But she wrote this book called The Price of Privilege back in 2006, and I think it's relevant to state that that was 13 years ago and we're still talking about the importance of building resilience. And her work was really focused on identifying in children from privileged backgrounds that parental pressures and material advantages created sort of a disconnect and a feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness in a lot of kids. And I think I'll read this quote from her book because I think it's pretty impactful. She writes, "When we do for our kids what they already can do for themselves, when we do for them what they can almost do for themselves, and when our parenting behavior is motivated by our own ego, we deprive our kids of the opportunity to be creative, to problem solve, to develop coping skills, to build resilience, to figure out what makes them happy, and to figure out who they are." And I think that captures her approach and her work beautifully.

Emma (08:30):
Another person who has a lot to say about this similar topic is Alison Gopnik, who is a professor at Berkeley, of psychology and philosophy, and she's written this book, just in the last few years, called The Gardener and the Carpenter, and it's one I often recommend because she makes clear two parenting styles that she's observed. She talks about how the carpenter parent seeks to mold children into a predetermined thing, in the way that a carpenter would say, "I'm going to build a chair." And so the idea is that if you do the right things—you get the right skills, you follow a particular set of steps—you can shape your kid into a particular kind of adult. Whereas the gardener parent focuses on providing a nurturant, variable, and rich ecosystem, one with lots of complexity and varied experiences. This kind of parent is less focused on controlling the child and more on creating a protected space for risk-taking and exploration. And, of course, Gopnik's talking about parenting styles, but this is really relevant for teachers, for guardians, grandparents, anybody in a child's life can be using these different frames of mind. So, I think a quote that I really like of her, since Jij read one, is the following: "We're so concerned about how these children are going to turn out that we're unwilling to give them the autonomy that they need to be able to take risks and go out and explore the world. Ironically, the less that mothers and fathers"—and I would say lots of other people in kids' lives too—"ironically, the less that they worry about outcomes, the better their children may fare in life." And I think that's a nice summary of her work on this.

Conor (10:12):
So all this talk about adults doing for kids what kids can do themselves reminds me of this recent college admission scandal, where parents were paying to get students into certain schools and falsifying documents. And so maybe we can talk about that a little bit because I think that's relatable to this idea of resilience and adults stepping in maybe where they shouldn't and where they aren't needed, and letting children and students do what they can for themselves.

Emma (10:44):
Yeah, I think that's a perfect example of where there was an opportunity to build resilience for these young people that they didn't get. They were deprived of that opportunity to kind of go through the struggle of the college admission process, probably have some heartache and struggle around it, and hopefully learn and get better because of it. So I think you've really identified a great example that's famous and, of course, has had horrible consequences for everyone involved, unfortunately.

Jij (11:12):
Yeah. Agreed. And I, you know, I really think about the distinction between, you know: is our job as grown-ups who care about young people, is our job to prepare the child for the road or to prepare and pave the road for the child? And I would hope it's that first idea, right? We're not trying to remove all obstacles and remove all challenges. We actually think obstacles and challenges can be great opportunities to build resilience and to build a core sense of self and identity and worth.

Emma (11:46):
Yeah, I think that's really true, Jij, and it makes me think about what the implicit message might be for a child when a grown-up steps in to fix a problem for them rather than giving them space to fumble productively. I think the message there is: I don't think you can do this, I don't think you can handle it. And that's, of course, not at all the message that we mean to be giving children, but I think it's there and it's something for us to really consider as we're making choices about when and how to intervene.

Conor (12:15):
Well, and I'm wondering, too, given the fact that Rowland Hall is such a supportive community, isn't that the place where children should be trying and potentially failing because they are in a supportive community that can help bring them back if and when they do have some setbacks?

Jij (12:37):
Absolutely, Conor. You know, it's funny, at Lower School Back to School Night, I talked about the idea of the holding environment, and that's where, you know, it's safe enough so that kids feel like they can take risks, but it's uncomfortable enough so that kids have to play with or explore a new way of being. Right? And the classic example of the holding environment is teaching your child how to ride a bike. Right? We don't want to hold onto the bike so much that the child doesn't get the experience of trying to pedal and doing the work of balancing and steering and all those hard things that really are the work of riding a bike. At the same time, we don't want to be so removed and hands-off that the kid falls over and has a terrible bike crash. Right? So we have to find that balance in creating that holding environment for our children so that they can do the work of childhood and learning and growing up without us intervening too much and robbing them or stealing those opportunities to learn and grow.

Conor (13:42):
Or you could just leave the training wheels on the bike, which is effectively what the college admissions scandal parents did.

Emma (13:49):
Mm-hmm.

Jij (13:50):
Yeah, I almost feel like they were riding the bike.

Conor (13:53):
So they just shoved the kid to the side.

Jij (13:55):
There's a metaphor there.

Conor (13:56):
Took the kid's bike.

Jij (13:57):
Yeah.

Conor (13:57):
Anyway, so, we talked about that a little bit, you kind of started to touch on that, but let's talk about, we've talked about some definitions of resilience and we've talked about when it's maybe absent or some of the problems. So what are opportunities that we can find to build resilience in children?

Emma (14:19):
So your bicycle example was making me think of another example that families will be really familiar with, I think. From my daycare years, I was really fortunate to get to be there and witness a number of kiddos' early steps. Maybe not their very first ones, but some of the first ones that they took, and then to observe other people supporting children in their very first steps. And an interesting thing happens. People quite naturally let toddlers toddle at the beginning. They stand themselves up, maybe they do that Spider-Man move along the wall for a while, and then they venture out with no hands touching anything. And we know that they will fall. They're going to fall a bunch, they're going to probably get bruises, but people know that they have to do that in order to find their own balance. We want to ensure that they're not going to fall down a hole and get really hurt, or down some stairs. But generally people are great at letting kids have some productive struggle in that context. I think that's one where we're really successful.

Conor (15:22):
I'm sure you both have tons of examples of these types of moments and I think we should talk about a few more of them because I think the context is important for different people, too, because, you know, we may think about being resilient in one area, but not in another.

Jij (15:37):
Yeah. Well, so it's interesting, Conor, I have this unique new experience of being both a Lower School parent and a Lower School principal this year, and so there are times where at school I'm operating with two brains, particularly when I see my child: both with the parent love and protection brain and with the principal-educator brain. Right? If that makes sense. So recently I had this experience in which my two brains were sort of at odds with one another in the midst of an opportunity for my child to build resilience. So basically, my first grader really wanted to sit with this specific friend during lunch and had not been able to do so for the first couple weeks of school. So on the drive to school that morning, she told me about this plan that she'd made to sit together with her friend and she was so excited and it was, you know, this great drive to school. So lunch comes, and I happen to be in the dining hall, and I see my kid come in and I see the other kid that she wants to sit with, and I know the plan and it's going to be so fun, and I'm so excited for my daughter. And then it doesn't work out and they don't get to sit together. And my kid was so disappointed, and I could see across the dining hall the look on her face. And, you know, in that moment, I'll be honest, my first instinct was to intervene, to, like, move chairs or, you know, have my daughter sit next to the friend because I knew the plan. That was my parent brain, just wanting her to be happy in that moment.

Conor (17:08):
Sure.

Jij (17:08):
Right? But then, you know, my principal-educator brain kicked in, I'm glad it did so, because, you know, my educator brain said, "You know, let's see how this first grader, my daughter, navigates this moment of disappointment." And so, you know, I gave some space. She sat down. She looked sad initially, and then I looked back a few minutes later and she was there giggling with friends. Right? And so I think the takeaway was: just because there are times where we can intervene and do something to help our children, doesn't always mean that's the right or best move to make.

Conor (17:44):
Sure.

Jij (17:44):
Does that make sense?

Conor (17:45):
Well, sure. And I think, too, I mean, I think back to, I mean this was as an adult, but I think back to something that a therapist friend told me was, "People get used to disappointment." And that's kind of a way of saying, like, we are resilient. You know, we get disappointed often, and it's okay. That's just part of life. Just like your daughter not being able to sit with her friend, she got over it pretty quickly and moved on, and hopefully next time the plan will work out and she'll be able to sit with that friend.

Emma (18:14):
I think that's, you've really hit upon a key reason, a motivator for caregivers and families to kind of swoop in sometimes, which is that you want to prevent pain. But another reason that I see is just because life is busy and we have a lot of things to do in a day. So, here's one thing that I see often in the Beginning School. We're really fortunate. Parents linger and families linger at drop-off in the classrooms, and we cherish this because it gives them an opportunity to see what kids are up to and connect with teachers and get to know classmates. It's a really special time and we know that it represents sometimes kind of a sacrifice because it's an extra 15 minutes that you're effectively adding to your commute. But it's so valuable. And we see children really eager to share with their grown-ups things in the classroom, and in particular in 4PreK and kindergarten, kiddos are really eager to do some writing with their family members. And so, often I'll see a child ask a parent how to spell something or other, because they're not quite sure and that's a common strategy. And I always feel extra proud of parents when they resist the urge, the totally understandable urge in an effort to get out the door to go to work or whatever they've got going on next, to just spell something out for that child. And, instead, they ask the child, "Well, what do you hear in the words? What's your best guess about how you would write that down?" and then affirm the child's efforts rather than sort of getting bogged down in conventional spelling. And I know that that's not possible every time, of course, but it's something that, I think, it's just this little moment when you have this opportunity to affirm the child's own capacity to figure something out.

Jij (20:03):
Yeah. And it's interesting, this idea of resilience and academic context is a thing. Right? So, the standards of mathematical practice, there are these strategies or strands that all mathematicians need in order to be strong mathematicians. Right? The first one is: make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. So it's like the first way to be a strong mathematician is to not give up. Right? I think that's brilliant because that lines up with what we're trying to do with kids. Also, think about early literacy, when kids are developing their reading skills and a young reader encounters an unfamiliar word. Right? We don't just tell them what the word is. We have them use their strategies or use their phonemic awareness, or they attack the word or stretch it out or sound it out.

Conor (20:52):
Sound it out. That was what they always told us to do. Like, "Sound it out. Okay? You know the letters."

Emma (20:56):
Mm-hmm.

Jij (20:57):
And so, again, just telling them what the answer is robs them of the ability to develop their ability to do it on their own. Right? And it's funny, even teachers are developing their resilience. We have a group of Rowland Hall teachers across the four divisions who are getting together to talk about how they can build their resilience as educators with the work of an author named Elena Aguilar, who wrote a book called Onward about the importance of educator resilience. So resilience is an important thing for all of us to consider, whether it's students, teachers, administrators, podcast hosts.

Conor (21:37):
Sure. Absolutely.

Jij (21:38):
So, I'd love to share this example of resilience that I was able to kind of witness, of a fourth grader and his family supporting this fourth grader in that. So, this fourth grader had a friend who's being really just kind of mean in their friendship.

Conor (22:00):
Kids can be mean.

Jij (22:01):
That happens, right? And so this fourth grader told his parents at home, and the parents just practiced some things, practiced, "Okay, what could you say? What could you do?" And the kid tried those things out at school, and they didn't work initially. And so the kid went home and they did some more: "Okay, what else could we try? Could you do this? Maybe try playing with someone else?" Kid tried those things and it didn't resolve the issue. Right? And the kid came home again and said, "It's not working." And the parents asked, "Well, what do you think the next step should be?" And the kid identified, you know, this fourth grader said, "I think I should tell a grown-up at school." And so the fourth grader told the teacher, the teacher involved other grown-ups at school, and we were able to address the problem. And what I love about that is, you know, when that student went home to tell the family, the parents, at home, it easily could've been, "Let's fix this right away." And instead that family coached the child and tried to figure out, "Okay, what are some things you can do?" So, because the student was involved in the process and involved in arriving at a resolution, that fourth grader had a hand in the process, was largely responsible for the resolution, and had a sense of agency and of self-advocacy, and really felt a voice in the process. And I think if that happened again, which, you know, unkind behaviors or treatment and friendships is a thing that happens in fourth grade, fifth grade, beyond, this child's going to have some skills to navigate that.

Conor (23:45):
Yeah.

Emma (23:45):
Drop-offs are a common point of challenge in the Beginning School, especially at the beginning of the year, but at any time, really. That that sort of separation moment can be a little bit tricky. And that's true for our preschoolers and for our kindergartners, by the way. And so it can be hard for family to know whether or not a kid will bounce back in a few moments if they really seem distressed, so it can be sort of hard to leave. And if it's a surprising response, it can be hard sometimes, even for the teachers to know exactly how to handle it. So, I'm reminded of one example: recently, a 3PreK kiddo, who ordinarily has an easy time being dropped off, got super upset after mom left and ran out of the room crying. And she was pretty inconsolable for several minutes. And this was unusual, so teachers were concerned and they were considering maybe calling mom to have her come back. And finally, you know, one of our brilliant Beginning School faculty members decided to take her outside, just to get some fresh air and get the roof out from over her head, just to kind of break it up. And this helped, sort of initially, offer a pause, at which point the teacher knelt down and said to the little girl, "What's making you so sad?" And she was able to say, "I didn't get a hug from my mama." And the teacher said, "Well, can I give you a hug right now?" And the little girl nodded and then got a hug and then immediately calmed down and felt totally better, and then was able to talk later with her mom about how she needs a hug at drop-off. And so this is just a thing that she is going to expect and her mom's going to do for her when she leaves. Totally reasonable. And this was a super exciting and powerful moment for this child because she learned that articulating her feelings helps her get her needs met. Right? She rescued herself with a little bit of help from a great teacher instead of having the sense that a really big, scary emotion needs to be solved by a grown-up entirely. She was able to kind of find her way through that. And one of the things I'm really proud of for that teacher is that that teacher saw the opportunity in that child's pain, which is hard to do because we love these little people, but she saw this as a potential learning moment, and I think it really paid off.

Conor (26:03):
That's great.

Emma (26:05):
So this story about a teacher sort of being able to see that moment of opportunity in a child's pain, I think illustrates something important about the faculty that we have at Rowland Hall. These folks are, you know, of course, in some cases, especially in the Lower School, they're subject matter experts, but they're also people who know so, so much about the children that they work with. And they've worked with, in some cases, thousands of children over the years, so they have this incredibly robust sample size, which gives them a really special and valuable perspective when thinking about how to coach kids through these difficult moments, and also to support families and one another. So I think it's a special thing about our community that we've got so many experienced teachers around.

Conor (26:52):
So, it wouldn't be an educational podcast without some homework. So, the princiPALS have some homework for the listeners so that you can do some things to help your children build resilience. Here are some things that you can do for homework.

Emma (27:12):
So, the first step that we suggest is: survey the scene. And this is a little phrase from first aid, so if you've done first aid or CPR training, you may recognize it. And the idea is that you begin, always, by observing. You can notice the protective instinct kicking in in your mind, but don't jump in immediately. Be curious, ask questions like, "Tell me more," or just say, "Hmm," and see what comes out next. You can say, "What makes you say that or think that" or, "Tell me how you're feeling about that." Taking this moment to build in space between the initial comment that you're getting from a kid and doing anything particular about it is really an important interval of time. And Jij's experience of when he's wearing his parent hat is a perfect example of that. He noticed this moment of distress in his child and he inhibited his natural and understandable impulse to go in on a white horse and save the day at lunchtime.

Jij (28:12):
Thing number two to do for homework, if we're thinking about building resilience in children, is—I love this phrase—don't fix; instead, coach. I love it so much, I'm going to say it again: don't fix; instead, coach. And if we think about a good coach, what does a good coach do? A good coach listens, asks questions, supports, reflects, empowers, and doesn't necessarily tell the coachee what to do. So, in that sense, you know, you're a coach or a consultant for your child. So, a great skill is to ask questions, questions like, "Oh, what did you do?" or, "Did that work?" or, "What else could you try? What will you do if it happens again? Who could you ask for help?" Or even having the child reflect: "Well, why do you think that happens?" or, "I wonder what was underneath that?" or, "Why do you think you're feeling that way?"

Emma (29:13):
The third thing is to see the opportunity to learn that's there in the pain. And this is a tricky one. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. When a child that you care very much about is suffering, it's really hard not to jump in and save the day. But coaching yourself internally to see that as a learning opportunity is really helpful. It goes back to this idea of not doing for children things which they can do, or almost do, for themselves that we talked about towards the top of the podcast. And, also, it's really honoring productive struggle. Sometimes as educators, we talk about the zone of proximal development, which is just a really fancy way of talking about the difference between your comfort zone, your stretch zone, and kind of your freak-out zone. And what we want for kids in school is to spend a lot of their time in that stretch zone. And it's a bit uncomfortable right there. We don't want them in the freak-out zone, but we also don't want them in their comfort zone all the time because that's not where learning happens. So, seeing that struggle and the pain that comes with it as the learning and the opportunity is really super valuable.

Another metaphor that is helpful for me sometimes is just to think about, you know, I'm an exerciser, so I think about training, and what that's effectively doing is, like, you know, ripping up my muscles on purpose, right? That's what exerted effort in exercise is. That's what weightlifting does. But I'm doing that on purpose because I know that my muscles will build themselves back stronger. And so this is the same kind of experience that we want to offer to kids. We want to give them the chance to go through that struggle in a productive way so that they come out stronger and better equipped on the other end.

Conor (31:03):
Gotta push yourself.

Okay, so just to recap, our three homework items to help students develop resilience are...

Jij (31:11):
Survey the scene.

Emma (31:12):
Don't fix; instead, coach.

Jij (31:15):
See the opportunity in the pain.

Conor (31:18):
That's great. Well, hopefully we've gotten a lot of really useful help for anyone listening today, and there'll be additional resources as a companion to the podcast posted on the website at rowlandhall.org. And I think this has been a great discussion, and hopefully the first of many.

Emma (31:36):
Mm-hmm.

Jij (31:37):
Well, thanks again, Conor, for joining us in the princiPALS' office.

Conor (31:40):
It's been a pleasure.

Oh, is it time for recess?

Jij (31:44):
I'm Jij de Jesus.

Emma (31:46):
I'm Emma Wellman.

Conor (31:47):
And I'm Conor Bentley. And this has been princiPALS.


About Jij de Jesus
Jij de Jesus is the Lower School principal at Rowland Hall, an independent private school in Salt Lake City, Utah. Prior to Rowland Hall, Jij worked at Town School for Boys in San Francisco, where he held a number of leadership positions, most notably as director of the Exploration of New Ideas program, and was a fourth-grade teacher. He began his career in experiential education by leading wilderness trips. Jij holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Northwestern University and a master’s of education in private school leadership from the University of Hawaii.

About Emma Wellman
Emma Wellman is the Beginning School principal at Rowland Hall. Emma joined Rowland Hall in July 2018 after working as a teacher and administrator at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Emma has also been an adjunct instructor at the City Colleges of Chicago and the owner of a childcare business, Banana Mashers. She holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from the University of Michigan and a master’s in child development from the Erikson Institute.

About Conor Bentley ’01
Conor Bentley is a graduate of Rowland Hall’s class of 2001. He holds a master’s degree in education, works in higher education, and has produced several podcasts, including the public-radio parody
Consider Our Knowledge.

Parent Education
 

PrinciPALS Podcast Transcript: 1.01: Building Resilience in Children

By Jij de Jesus, Emma Wellman, and Conor Bentley

Listen above or on Apple Podcasts.


In the first episode of The PrinciPALS Podcast, we’re discussing resilience—that essential life skill that empowers kids to bounce back from challenges and stressors. Join Jij and Emma as they chat about what resilience in children looks and sounds like, and share ways that caregivers and educators can work together to build this skill.

Podcast resources:

  • Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth, co-founder and CEO of Character Lab and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania
  • The Gardener and the Carpenter, by Alison Gopnick, professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley
  • The Price of Privilege, by Madeline Levine, psychologist and co-founder of Challenge Success at the Stanford Graduate School of Education

The transcript of this episode appears below.


Conor Bentley (00:01):
From Rowland Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah...

Jij de Jesus (00:04):
I'm Jij de Jesus.

Emma Wellman (00:06):
And I'm Emma Wellman.

Conor (00:07):
And they're the princiPALS.

I'm Conor Bentley, and on today's episode of princiPALS, we'll be talking about building resilience in children.

Emma, Jij, thanks for letting me join you in the princiPALS' office today.

Jij (00:31):
You know, Conor, it's always a great day to visit the princiPALS' office.

Emma (00:33):
Glad to have you.

Conor (00:35):
Yeah, thank you. So, this is the first episode of princiPALS and as such, I think we should probably introduce ourselves to the audience.

Jij (00:43):
Great idea, Conor. I'll go first. My name is Jij de Jesus, again, and I'm the Lower School principal at Rowland Hall, where I have the chance to work with and support around 300 students and their families through the joys and challenges of the elementary years, grades one through five. Prior to what I currently do, I taught for about a decade at an all-boys independent school in San Francisco, mostly fourth grade. And I do still think of myself as a fourth-grade teacher, sometimes as a fourth-grade student, depending on the day.

Conor (01:13):
Mm-hmm.

Emma (01:15):
And I'm Emma Wellman. I'm the Beginning School principal at Rowland Hall, and so I get to support Rowland Hall's youngest learners; we've got preschoolers and kindergartners in our division. Before this, I worked at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in Chicago, where I ran programs for more than 600 kids between preschool and eighth grade. Before that, I founded and ran a small daycare for infants and preschoolers. So early childhood has been a long part of my work.

Conor (01:42):
Wow. Well, and I'm Conor Bentley, and in addition to being a podcast creator and producer, I'm also a proud Rowland Hall Lifer and graduate from the class of 2001, and I also taught and coached in the upper and middle schools for four years.

Let's talk to our listeners for a moment about why you all wanted to start this podcast.

Jij (02:01):
That's a great question, Conor. I think, going back to this summer, doing some big-picture thinking and really identifying that we wanted to find ways to support our community more deeply, both students/families and teachers, and what we landed on was, you know, recognizing that parenting is hard, teaching is hard, and both are a little bit easier when they're done together in partnership. And, you know, when that partnership delivers consistent messages for children, that's when kids really thrive. So, I think that was kind of the genesis of why we wanted to start this podcast.

Conor (02:38):
That's great. So with that, we want to talk about resilience today, and our driving question for this episode, that we want to answer, is: what does resilience in kids look and sound like? And what does it look and sound like when families and teachers help children build it? And before we get into answering that question, let's just define resilience and talk about what it means.

Emma (03:03):
So I think of resilience as anti-fragility. It's like a tree that bends in the wind but doesn't break. We want our kids to grow up to be robust humans who can manage moments of difficulty, who are prepared to confront challenges, and get all the learning out of them. This process is often uncomfortable and messy, but we know that a bit of discomfort is a common sign of learning and growth.

Jij (03:24):
Yeah, it was interesting to hear Sam Goldstein, a local psychologist and expert and educator, talk at a recent Rowland Hall parent forum about the roots of the term resilience. I didn't know that resilience is actually a material science term that describes materials that can absorb energy and then return to its original state, or bounce back. And that idea of bouncing back, it reminded me of those old Timex commercials, I don't know if you remember those.

Conor (03:53):
Oh, yeah.

Jij (03:54):
Those watches that take a licking and keep on ticking.

Conor (03:58):
I still have my Timex and it's still ticking.

Jij (04:00):
There you go. So he talked about the idea of tenacity and this idea of facing adversity and, you know, being able to face adversity and keep functioning, and described the settings in which a tenacious mindset can develop and flourish really require the nurturing and support of caring adults. And, you know, it's interesting, he really broke down the idea that your identity, or who our children grow up to be, is really dictated by their genes and experiences. Right? And he even, like, quantified it, like 90 percent is genetic and 10 percent is experiences. And so, thinking of the grown-ups, whether it's parents, caregivers, teachers, we as grown-ups are architects of our children's experiences.

Conor (04:46):
So when you're talking about that, how can grown-ups, parents, caregivers, guardians, teachers be architects for their children?

Jij (04:56):
Yeah. Sam actually offered up some great specific suggestions. One was just starting off with examining your assumptions about your child's choices and successes, and making sure that your assumptions are about your child and not about you. He also talked about helping children find passionate interests and islands of competence, and figuring out how to support them in pursuing those things. You know, he talked about listening and learning first before advising, and sometimes children just want to be heard when they're talking about something that's difficult or challenging for them. And, finally, I think a big idea here is taking the long view. Right? And not kind of looking at little moments as the thing that's going to dictate who a child becomes, but really thinking of a big picture, that whole 10 percent of experiences.

Conor (05:53):
So what you're saying is that it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Jij (05:56):
Yeah, I think that's right.

Emma (05:58):
Yeah. Another person who's done a lot of work on this and has published a number of articles and has a TED Talk and a book about it, so folks may be really familiar with her work, is Angela Duckworth. She's a research professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She's also been a consultant for the NBA and Fortune 500 companies. And her big notion is about grit. And she talks about grit as being passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. She makes a distinction. This passion isn't about intense emotion, but rather about dedication to the work that you're doing. And what she found through her research with other collaborators is that grit's a better predictor of achievement than is intellectual talent measured by IQ. So it turns out that what we need to do in order to help kids be really successful in the long run is give them opportunities to build up grit and stamina, to stay the course amid challenges and setbacks. Talent, according to Duckworth, won't be enough to lead to success.

Conor (07:04):
Right, it's hard work coupled with talent. I mean, it's the nature/nurture thing that you kind of started talking about. So what else is out there as far as research goes?

Jij (07:14):
Well, one of my favorite researchers in this field is Madeline Levine, and not just because she's from the Bay Area. But she wrote this book called The Price of Privilege back in 2006, and I think it's relevant to state that that was 13 years ago and we're still talking about the importance of building resilience. And her work was really focused on identifying in children from privileged backgrounds that parental pressures and material advantages created sort of a disconnect and a feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness in a lot of kids. And I think I'll read this quote from her book because I think it's pretty impactful. She writes, "When we do for our kids what they already can do for themselves, when we do for them what they can almost do for themselves, and when our parenting behavior is motivated by our own ego, we deprive our kids of the opportunity to be creative, to problem solve, to develop coping skills, to build resilience, to figure out what makes them happy, and to figure out who they are." And I think that captures her approach and her work beautifully.

Emma (08:30):
Another person who has a lot to say about this similar topic is Alison Gopnik, who is a professor at Berkeley, of psychology and philosophy, and she's written this book, just in the last few years, called The Gardener and the Carpenter, and it's one I often recommend because she makes clear two parenting styles that she's observed. She talks about how the carpenter parent seeks to mold children into a predetermined thing, in the way that a carpenter would say, "I'm going to build a chair." And so the idea is that if you do the right things—you get the right skills, you follow a particular set of steps—you can shape your kid into a particular kind of adult. Whereas the gardener parent focuses on providing a nurturant, variable, and rich ecosystem, one with lots of complexity and varied experiences. This kind of parent is less focused on controlling the child and more on creating a protected space for risk-taking and exploration. And, of course, Gopnik's talking about parenting styles, but this is really relevant for teachers, for guardians, grandparents, anybody in a child's life can be using these different frames of mind. So, I think a quote that I really like of her, since Jij read one, is the following: "We're so concerned about how these children are going to turn out that we're unwilling to give them the autonomy that they need to be able to take risks and go out and explore the world. Ironically, the less that mothers and fathers"—and I would say lots of other people in kids' lives too—"ironically, the less that they worry about outcomes, the better their children may fare in life." And I think that's a nice summary of her work on this.

Conor (10:12):
So all this talk about adults doing for kids what kids can do themselves reminds me of this recent college admission scandal, where parents were paying to get students into certain schools and falsifying documents. And so maybe we can talk about that a little bit because I think that's relatable to this idea of resilience and adults stepping in maybe where they shouldn't and where they aren't needed, and letting children and students do what they can for themselves.

Emma (10:44):
Yeah, I think that's a perfect example of where there was an opportunity to build resilience for these young people that they didn't get. They were deprived of that opportunity to kind of go through the struggle of the college admission process, probably have some heartache and struggle around it, and hopefully learn and get better because of it. So I think you've really identified a great example that's famous and, of course, has had horrible consequences for everyone involved, unfortunately.

Jij (11:12):
Yeah. Agreed. And I, you know, I really think about the distinction between, you know: is our job as grown-ups who care about young people, is our job to prepare the child for the road or to prepare and pave the road for the child? And I would hope it's that first idea, right? We're not trying to remove all obstacles and remove all challenges. We actually think obstacles and challenges can be great opportunities to build resilience and to build a core sense of self and identity and worth.

Emma (11:46):
Yeah, I think that's really true, Jij, and it makes me think about what the implicit message might be for a child when a grown-up steps in to fix a problem for them rather than giving them space to fumble productively. I think the message there is: I don't think you can do this, I don't think you can handle it. And that's, of course, not at all the message that we mean to be giving children, but I think it's there and it's something for us to really consider as we're making choices about when and how to intervene.

Conor (12:15):
Well, and I'm wondering, too, given the fact that Rowland Hall is such a supportive community, isn't that the place where children should be trying and potentially failing because they are in a supportive community that can help bring them back if and when they do have some setbacks?

Jij (12:37):
Absolutely, Conor. You know, it's funny, at Lower School Back to School Night, I talked about the idea of the holding environment, and that's where, you know, it's safe enough so that kids feel like they can take risks, but it's uncomfortable enough so that kids have to play with or explore a new way of being. Right? And the classic example of the holding environment is teaching your child how to ride a bike. Right? We don't want to hold onto the bike so much that the child doesn't get the experience of trying to pedal and doing the work of balancing and steering and all those hard things that really are the work of riding a bike. At the same time, we don't want to be so removed and hands-off that the kid falls over and has a terrible bike crash. Right? So we have to find that balance in creating that holding environment for our children so that they can do the work of childhood and learning and growing up without us intervening too much and robbing them or stealing those opportunities to learn and grow.

Conor (13:42):
Or you could just leave the training wheels on the bike, which is effectively what the college admissions scandal parents did.

Emma (13:49):
Mm-hmm.

Jij (13:50):
Yeah, I almost feel like they were riding the bike.

Conor (13:53):
So they just shoved the kid to the side.

Jij (13:55):
There's a metaphor there.

Conor (13:56):
Took the kid's bike.

Jij (13:57):
Yeah.

Conor (13:57):
Anyway, so, we talked about that a little bit, you kind of started to touch on that, but let's talk about, we've talked about some definitions of resilience and we've talked about when it's maybe absent or some of the problems. So what are opportunities that we can find to build resilience in children?

Emma (14:19):
So your bicycle example was making me think of another example that families will be really familiar with, I think. From my daycare years, I was really fortunate to get to be there and witness a number of kiddos' early steps. Maybe not their very first ones, but some of the first ones that they took, and then to observe other people supporting children in their very first steps. And an interesting thing happens. People quite naturally let toddlers toddle at the beginning. They stand themselves up, maybe they do that Spider-Man move along the wall for a while, and then they venture out with no hands touching anything. And we know that they will fall. They're going to fall a bunch, they're going to probably get bruises, but people know that they have to do that in order to find their own balance. We want to ensure that they're not going to fall down a hole and get really hurt, or down some stairs. But generally people are great at letting kids have some productive struggle in that context. I think that's one where we're really successful.

Conor (15:22):
I'm sure you both have tons of examples of these types of moments and I think we should talk about a few more of them because I think the context is important for different people, too, because, you know, we may think about being resilient in one area, but not in another.

Jij (15:37):
Yeah. Well, so it's interesting, Conor, I have this unique new experience of being both a Lower School parent and a Lower School principal this year, and so there are times where at school I'm operating with two brains, particularly when I see my child: both with the parent love and protection brain and with the principal-educator brain. Right? If that makes sense. So recently I had this experience in which my two brains were sort of at odds with one another in the midst of an opportunity for my child to build resilience. So basically, my first grader really wanted to sit with this specific friend during lunch and had not been able to do so for the first couple weeks of school. So on the drive to school that morning, she told me about this plan that she'd made to sit together with her friend and she was so excited and it was, you know, this great drive to school. So lunch comes, and I happen to be in the dining hall, and I see my kid come in and I see the other kid that she wants to sit with, and I know the plan and it's going to be so fun, and I'm so excited for my daughter. And then it doesn't work out and they don't get to sit together. And my kid was so disappointed, and I could see across the dining hall the look on her face. And, you know, in that moment, I'll be honest, my first instinct was to intervene, to, like, move chairs or, you know, have my daughter sit next to the friend because I knew the plan. That was my parent brain, just wanting her to be happy in that moment.

Conor (17:08):
Sure.

Jij (17:08):
Right? But then, you know, my principal-educator brain kicked in, I'm glad it did so, because, you know, my educator brain said, "You know, let's see how this first grader, my daughter, navigates this moment of disappointment." And so, you know, I gave some space. She sat down. She looked sad initially, and then I looked back a few minutes later and she was there giggling with friends. Right? And so I think the takeaway was: just because there are times where we can intervene and do something to help our children, doesn't always mean that's the right or best move to make.

Conor (17:44):
Sure.

Jij (17:44):
Does that make sense?

Conor (17:45):
Well, sure. And I think, too, I mean, I think back to, I mean this was as an adult, but I think back to something that a therapist friend told me was, "People get used to disappointment." And that's kind of a way of saying, like, we are resilient. You know, we get disappointed often, and it's okay. That's just part of life. Just like your daughter not being able to sit with her friend, she got over it pretty quickly and moved on, and hopefully next time the plan will work out and she'll be able to sit with that friend.

Emma (18:14):
I think that's, you've really hit upon a key reason, a motivator for caregivers and families to kind of swoop in sometimes, which is that you want to prevent pain. But another reason that I see is just because life is busy and we have a lot of things to do in a day. So, here's one thing that I see often in the Beginning School. We're really fortunate. Parents linger and families linger at drop-off in the classrooms, and we cherish this because it gives them an opportunity to see what kids are up to and connect with teachers and get to know classmates. It's a really special time and we know that it represents sometimes kind of a sacrifice because it's an extra 15 minutes that you're effectively adding to your commute. But it's so valuable. And we see children really eager to share with their grown-ups things in the classroom, and in particular in 4PreK and kindergarten, kiddos are really eager to do some writing with their family members. And so, often I'll see a child ask a parent how to spell something or other, because they're not quite sure and that's a common strategy. And I always feel extra proud of parents when they resist the urge, the totally understandable urge in an effort to get out the door to go to work or whatever they've got going on next, to just spell something out for that child. And, instead, they ask the child, "Well, what do you hear in the words? What's your best guess about how you would write that down?" and then affirm the child's efforts rather than sort of getting bogged down in conventional spelling. And I know that that's not possible every time, of course, but it's something that, I think, it's just this little moment when you have this opportunity to affirm the child's own capacity to figure something out.

Jij (20:03):
Yeah. And it's interesting, this idea of resilience and academic context is a thing. Right? So, the standards of mathematical practice, there are these strategies or strands that all mathematicians need in order to be strong mathematicians. Right? The first one is: make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. So it's like the first way to be a strong mathematician is to not give up. Right? I think that's brilliant because that lines up with what we're trying to do with kids. Also, think about early literacy, when kids are developing their reading skills and a young reader encounters an unfamiliar word. Right? We don't just tell them what the word is. We have them use their strategies or use their phonemic awareness, or they attack the word or stretch it out or sound it out.

Conor (20:52):
Sound it out. That was what they always told us to do. Like, "Sound it out. Okay? You know the letters."

Emma (20:56):
Mm-hmm.

Jij (20:57):
And so, again, just telling them what the answer is robs them of the ability to develop their ability to do it on their own. Right? And it's funny, even teachers are developing their resilience. We have a group of Rowland Hall teachers across the four divisions who are getting together to talk about how they can build their resilience as educators with the work of an author named Elena Aguilar, who wrote a book called Onward about the importance of educator resilience. So resilience is an important thing for all of us to consider, whether it's students, teachers, administrators, podcast hosts.

Conor (21:37):
Sure. Absolutely.

Jij (21:38):
So, I'd love to share this example of resilience that I was able to kind of witness, of a fourth grader and his family supporting this fourth grader in that. So, this fourth grader had a friend who's being really just kind of mean in their friendship.

Conor (22:00):
Kids can be mean.

Jij (22:01):
That happens, right? And so this fourth grader told his parents at home, and the parents just practiced some things, practiced, "Okay, what could you say? What could you do?" And the kid tried those things out at school, and they didn't work initially. And so the kid went home and they did some more: "Okay, what else could we try? Could you do this? Maybe try playing with someone else?" Kid tried those things and it didn't resolve the issue. Right? And the kid came home again and said, "It's not working." And the parents asked, "Well, what do you think the next step should be?" And the kid identified, you know, this fourth grader said, "I think I should tell a grown-up at school." And so the fourth grader told the teacher, the teacher involved other grown-ups at school, and we were able to address the problem. And what I love about that is, you know, when that student went home to tell the family, the parents, at home, it easily could've been, "Let's fix this right away." And instead that family coached the child and tried to figure out, "Okay, what are some things you can do?" So, because the student was involved in the process and involved in arriving at a resolution, that fourth grader had a hand in the process, was largely responsible for the resolution, and had a sense of agency and of self-advocacy, and really felt a voice in the process. And I think if that happened again, which, you know, unkind behaviors or treatment and friendships is a thing that happens in fourth grade, fifth grade, beyond, this child's going to have some skills to navigate that.

Conor (23:45):
Yeah.

Emma (23:45):
Drop-offs are a common point of challenge in the Beginning School, especially at the beginning of the year, but at any time, really. That that sort of separation moment can be a little bit tricky. And that's true for our preschoolers and for our kindergartners, by the way. And so it can be hard for family to know whether or not a kid will bounce back in a few moments if they really seem distressed, so it can be sort of hard to leave. And if it's a surprising response, it can be hard sometimes, even for the teachers to know exactly how to handle it. So, I'm reminded of one example: recently, a 3PreK kiddo, who ordinarily has an easy time being dropped off, got super upset after mom left and ran out of the room crying. And she was pretty inconsolable for several minutes. And this was unusual, so teachers were concerned and they were considering maybe calling mom to have her come back. And finally, you know, one of our brilliant Beginning School faculty members decided to take her outside, just to get some fresh air and get the roof out from over her head, just to kind of break it up. And this helped, sort of initially, offer a pause, at which point the teacher knelt down and said to the little girl, "What's making you so sad?" And she was able to say, "I didn't get a hug from my mama." And the teacher said, "Well, can I give you a hug right now?" And the little girl nodded and then got a hug and then immediately calmed down and felt totally better, and then was able to talk later with her mom about how she needs a hug at drop-off. And so this is just a thing that she is going to expect and her mom's going to do for her when she leaves. Totally reasonable. And this was a super exciting and powerful moment for this child because she learned that articulating her feelings helps her get her needs met. Right? She rescued herself with a little bit of help from a great teacher instead of having the sense that a really big, scary emotion needs to be solved by a grown-up entirely. She was able to kind of find her way through that. And one of the things I'm really proud of for that teacher is that that teacher saw the opportunity in that child's pain, which is hard to do because we love these little people, but she saw this as a potential learning moment, and I think it really paid off.

Conor (26:03):
That's great.

Emma (26:05):
So this story about a teacher sort of being able to see that moment of opportunity in a child's pain, I think illustrates something important about the faculty that we have at Rowland Hall. These folks are, you know, of course, in some cases, especially in the Lower School, they're subject matter experts, but they're also people who know so, so much about the children that they work with. And they've worked with, in some cases, thousands of children over the years, so they have this incredibly robust sample size, which gives them a really special and valuable perspective when thinking about how to coach kids through these difficult moments, and also to support families and one another. So I think it's a special thing about our community that we've got so many experienced teachers around.

Conor (26:52):
So, it wouldn't be an educational podcast without some homework. So, the princiPALS have some homework for the listeners so that you can do some things to help your children build resilience. Here are some things that you can do for homework.

Emma (27:12):
So, the first step that we suggest is: survey the scene. And this is a little phrase from first aid, so if you've done first aid or CPR training, you may recognize it. And the idea is that you begin, always, by observing. You can notice the protective instinct kicking in in your mind, but don't jump in immediately. Be curious, ask questions like, "Tell me more," or just say, "Hmm," and see what comes out next. You can say, "What makes you say that or think that" or, "Tell me how you're feeling about that." Taking this moment to build in space between the initial comment that you're getting from a kid and doing anything particular about it is really an important interval of time. And Jij's experience of when he's wearing his parent hat is a perfect example of that. He noticed this moment of distress in his child and he inhibited his natural and understandable impulse to go in on a white horse and save the day at lunchtime.

Jij (28:12):
Thing number two to do for homework, if we're thinking about building resilience in children, is—I love this phrase—don't fix; instead, coach. I love it so much, I'm going to say it again: don't fix; instead, coach. And if we think about a good coach, what does a good coach do? A good coach listens, asks questions, supports, reflects, empowers, and doesn't necessarily tell the coachee what to do. So, in that sense, you know, you're a coach or a consultant for your child. So, a great skill is to ask questions, questions like, "Oh, what did you do?" or, "Did that work?" or, "What else could you try? What will you do if it happens again? Who could you ask for help?" Or even having the child reflect: "Well, why do you think that happens?" or, "I wonder what was underneath that?" or, "Why do you think you're feeling that way?"

Emma (29:13):
The third thing is to see the opportunity to learn that's there in the pain. And this is a tricky one. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. When a child that you care very much about is suffering, it's really hard not to jump in and save the day. But coaching yourself internally to see that as a learning opportunity is really helpful. It goes back to this idea of not doing for children things which they can do, or almost do, for themselves that we talked about towards the top of the podcast. And, also, it's really honoring productive struggle. Sometimes as educators, we talk about the zone of proximal development, which is just a really fancy way of talking about the difference between your comfort zone, your stretch zone, and kind of your freak-out zone. And what we want for kids in school is to spend a lot of their time in that stretch zone. And it's a bit uncomfortable right there. We don't want them in the freak-out zone, but we also don't want them in their comfort zone all the time because that's not where learning happens. So, seeing that struggle and the pain that comes with it as the learning and the opportunity is really super valuable.

Another metaphor that is helpful for me sometimes is just to think about, you know, I'm an exerciser, so I think about training, and what that's effectively doing is, like, you know, ripping up my muscles on purpose, right? That's what exerted effort in exercise is. That's what weightlifting does. But I'm doing that on purpose because I know that my muscles will build themselves back stronger. And so this is the same kind of experience that we want to offer to kids. We want to give them the chance to go through that struggle in a productive way so that they come out stronger and better equipped on the other end.

Conor (31:03):
Gotta push yourself.

Okay, so just to recap, our three homework items to help students develop resilience are...

Jij (31:11):
Survey the scene.

Emma (31:12):
Don't fix; instead, coach.

Jij (31:15):
See the opportunity in the pain.

Conor (31:18):
That's great. Well, hopefully we've gotten a lot of really useful help for anyone listening today, and there'll be additional resources as a companion to the podcast posted on the website at rowlandhall.org. And I think this has been a great discussion, and hopefully the first of many.

Emma (31:36):
Mm-hmm.

Jij (31:37):
Well, thanks again, Conor, for joining us in the princiPALS' office.

Conor (31:40):
It's been a pleasure.

Oh, is it time for recess?

Jij (31:44):
I'm Jij de Jesus.

Emma (31:46):
I'm Emma Wellman.

Conor (31:47):
And I'm Conor Bentley. And this has been princiPALS.


About Jij de Jesus
Jij de Jesus is the Lower School principal at Rowland Hall, an independent private school in Salt Lake City, Utah. Prior to Rowland Hall, Jij worked at Town School for Boys in San Francisco, where he held a number of leadership positions, most notably as director of the Exploration of New Ideas program, and was a fourth-grade teacher. He began his career in experiential education by leading wilderness trips. Jij holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Northwestern University and a master’s of education in private school leadership from the University of Hawaii.

About Emma Wellman
Emma Wellman is the Beginning School principal at Rowland Hall. Emma joined Rowland Hall in July 2018 after working as a teacher and administrator at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Emma has also been an adjunct instructor at the City Colleges of Chicago and the owner of a childcare business, Banana Mashers. She holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from the University of Michigan and a master’s in child development from the Erikson Institute.

About Conor Bentley ’01
Conor Bentley is a graduate of Rowland Hall’s class of 2001. He holds a master’s degree in education, works in higher education, and has produced several podcasts, including the public-radio parody
Consider Our Knowledge.

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