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August 8, 2023
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Adaptability vs Resilience: Understanding the Difference and Why It Matters for Schools

Adaptability and resilience are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they do refer to different concepts. It is important for teachers to understand the difference between them so they can better support children in developing the skills they need to navigate inevitable change and uncertainty.

Adaptability refers to our ability to adjust, learn newskills, and make the changes needed to navigate new situations. There are threekey parts to adaptability:

  • Behavioural Adaptability – Doingsomething different and changing behaviour due to change, such as asking forhelp or looking for supportive resources.
  • Cognitive Adaptability – Adjusting attitudes,thoughts, and expectations because a situation has changed.
  • Emotional Adaptability – Managing theemotions experienced as a result of change in order to remain functional.

Adaptability is a keyskill in today's ever-changing world, where new technologies and ideas areconstantly emerging. It involves being flexible, open-minded, and willing totry new things. Being adaptable can help children thrive in a variety ofsituations, from adjusting to a new school or teacher, to pursuing a new careerpath.

How is Adaptability Different from Resilience?

Resilience, on the other hand, refers to our ability to ‘bounce’back from adversity, recover from setbacks, overcome challenges, and keepmoving forward. Resilience is often associated with mental toughness andperseverance, as well as emotional stability and self-control. Whileadaptability is about being open to change, resilience is about being able tocope with the stress and pressure that change can bring.

Why is Adaptability an important concept for schools?

Adaptability is an important concept for schools because it helpsprepares pupils for life outside of the classroom and thrive in a constantlychanging world.

Teaching adaptability helps pupils to develop a growthmindset and an ability to learn from failure. It prepares them to be creative andinnovative problem-solvers who can think critically and adapt to newsituations. This is an essential skill in a world where employees need to beable to adapt to new technologies, work environments, and cultures.

Adaptability and resilience are both essential concepts thathave different implications for schools. At BounceTogether, we provide ourschools with a number of research-based resilience and adaptability surveys tohelp them capture insights, identify need, and provide more targeted supportfor their pupils. These surveys include The Adaptability Scale, created by Professorof Educational Psychology, Andrew Martin. This scale has been designed to helpschools collect insights into pupils’ abilities to cope with change, deal withuncertainty, and handle stress.

This is a survey available exclusively through BounceTogether,and we have had a huge number of customers assign this to their pupils. Forschools interested in running this survey, our team can do this for you for aone-off cost of £99 per school.

We set up your survey for you and provide a unique URL that youcan share with staff, pupils, and parents. We'll score the responses andprovide you with a professionally formatted report that highlights key findingsand leaves you free to focus on the important work of supporting your students.

Run The Adaptability Scale – Click Here

How can schools help children build adaptability skills?

Schools can help children build adaptability skills byproviding a supportive learning environment that encourages creativity,collaboration, and resilience:

  • Encourage problem-solving: Teachers canprovide opportunities for pupils to solve problems independently or in groups.This can involve hands-on projects, case studies, or simulations that require pupilsto think creatively and come up with innovative solutions.
  • Foster a growth mindset: Schools canencourage pupils to adopt a growth mindset, which means believing that theirabilities can be developed through hard work and dedication. This can beachieved through praising effort rather than just natural ability and emphasisingthe value of learning from mistakes.
  • Teach resilience: Schools can teach pupilshow to bounce back from setbacks and failures. This can be done by providingemotional support, helping pupils develop coping strategies, and teaching themhow to persevere in the face of adversity.
  • Develop collaboration skills: Schools canprovide opportunities for pupils to work in teams, collaborate on projects, andpractice effective communication. This can help them learn how to workeffectively with others and adapt to different personalities and workingstyles.
  • Expose students to diverse perspectives:Schools should allow pupils to engage with different cultures, viewpoints, andexperiences. This can broaden their horizons and help them develop empathy andtolerance for others, which are important skills for adapting to differentsituations.

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