It’s hard to play chess in a hurricane

Resiliency: Bouncing back with more power and grit

As an educator (School Counselor) I heard a saying at a “Compassionate Schools” conference several years ago that so paralleled my experience of working with many students over the years: “It’s hard to play chess in a hurricane”. What does that mean? Data indicates to us that about 25 to 33 % of students in a given classroom have experienced “Trauma” in their life that effects the way they learn. In fact, a study (Called “Acute Childhood Experience: A.C.E.’s”) indicates that about 50% of adults have experienced a fairly high percentage of trauma in their life. Many of these adults who have high “A.C.E scores” have health and/or addiction problems. To find out more about the A.C.E’s study you can check out this website.

Even if a student or adult does not score very high on the A.C.E.’s (meaning no or little trauma in his or her life), it’s fair to say that most everyone has had some sort of “hurricane” in their life. Most anything that triggers anxiety that effects someone for a week or more would be noted as a “hurricane”. Anxiety effects many things in life: an ability to focus, how we communicate with others, our reaction to stressors in life and so often it effects sleep. When I share this saying: “it’s hard to play chess in a hurricane”, so many students relate to this saying and can note at least once situation that they would consider being a hurricane.

So how do we help students who have experienced “hurricanes” in their life? One of the primary components that helps those who have had a lot of Trauma (high A.C.E scores) is the concept and experience of “resiliency”. Several studies have shown that resiliency is the primary way we help students overcome and “bounce back” from trauma.

What does resiliency mean? Two definitions:

“The capacity to bounce back, rebound, successfully adapt in the face of adversity and develop social and academic competence despite exposure to severe stress”

“Resiliency is about bouncing back from problems and stuff with more power and grit” (written by a 15 year old student)

During the rest of the month of August we will be focusing on this concept of resiliency and how we can best use tools that help foster resiliency in students especially those who have had “hurricanes” in their lives.

– Mike Black, Ferndale School Counselor & Mentor Coach