National Writing Project

Resilience: Overcoming Adversity and Thriving

Date: October 21, 2009

Summary: The resources collected here illustrate approaches to teaching and curriculum that support the power of resilience for young people striving to learn in adverse situations.


In the face of challenging social, economic, and personal situations, writing and the teaching of writing can play a role in supporting our human capacity to cope with, and even triumph over, adversity.

To explore this human capacity, often called resiliency, the Urban Sites Network invited researcher Bonnie Benard to share emerging perspectives on resiliency at the 2009 Urban Sites Network Conference and then worked with the Urban Sites Network to discuss approaches to teaching and curriculum that foster resilience in students.

Their conclusion: though resilience is part of human nature, it can also be bolstered through positive human interactions. The resources collected here illustrate the power of resilience in education and possible platforms for fostering resilience in our institutions.

The Importance of Resiliency in Writing and Learning

Bonnie Benard, senior program associate, WestEd, discusses the role that schools and communities play in supporting the biological drive for normal human development and triumphing over adversity: resiliency.

Benard works to help schools and communities create supportive environments that nurture adolescents' healthy development and life success.

You can also check out Benard's presentation at the 2009 Urban Sites Network Conference, Resiliency: What We Have Learned, to the right.

Teachers Teaching Teachers Webcasts

Members of the NWP's Urban and Rural Sites Networks, who have been discussing the implications of resiliency research for classroom practice, share what teachers see and do when stakes are high, supports are limited, and odds are tough—and kids rise above it all.

Resiliency: What are we learning from our students?

Download (mp3) (44:00)

Resiliency: What are we learning with our colleagues?

Download (mp3) (42:28)

Resiliency: An Annotated Bibliography

This bibliography includes selections from a wide body of literature about fostering resilience in urban students.

Building Policy Platforms for Resilience

Resiliency is a characteristic of individuals that allows them to adapt, persevere, and succeed despite adversity. But what sorts of approaches and policies would foster resiliency in institutions like schools? This brief from the KnowledgeWorks Foundation takes a look at platforms for resilience in policy.

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