Key Takeaway: 

Social and emotional learning (SEL) should be explicitly taught in schools, especially in secondary schools. SEL competencies can lead to improved peer relationships, heightened resilience, and a more positive school climate among secondary school students. It also empowers students who have been subjected to varying degrees of peer victimization. —Shekufeh Monadjem

The Benefits of Social-Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) strives to create “a preventative school-based framework which aims to promote resiliency and a positive school climate,” and is quickly becoming an essential part of school curricula.1 “Teaching SEL skills to youth within schools has been linked with increased social skills, academic performance, and reduced mental health problems and behaviour problems among students.”2

This study by Fredrick and Jenkins (2021) sought to examine the relationship between student perception of SEL skills taught through SEL instruction and peer relationships. 228 racially diverse participants from Grades 8-12 were included in the study.

The Benefits of Explicit SEL Instruction

Results showed that “SEL instruction was positively related to student SEL skills and positive perceptions of peer relationships, and the strengths of these associations were similar across boys and girls. In addition, these associations were similar for youth experiencing low, moderate, and high levels of victimization, but were especially robust for the high-victimization group.”

In addition to promoting student SEL skills, another purpose of SEL instruction is to “promote positive peer relationships and this may be especially important among high school students, given the value that adolescents place on friendships.”3 A critical aspect of school climate and culture are students’ perceptions of whether classmates treat each other with respect and inclusivity. Positive peer relationships are more evident in schools and classrooms where “teachers and staff provide social-emotional support, utilize curricula and activities which foster social interactions, and where adults model respectful and caring behaviour.”3 Research has supported a link between the teaching of SEL skills and positive peer relationships, as well as a reduction in aggressive behaviour and homophobic name-calling.

Previous research had shown that efforts to promote a positive school climate may have been harmful to students who continued to experience peer victimization.3 In contrast to previous research, findings from the current study revealed that SEL instruction was positively related to heightened SEL skills and positive peer relationships for both boys and girls, and these findings were more robust for students experiencing high levels of peer victimization.

Summarized Article:

Fredrick, S. S., & Jenkins, L. N. (2021). Social Emotional Learning and Peer Victimization Among Secondary School Students. International Journal of Bullying Prevention, 1-11.

Summary by: Shekufeh Monadjem –  Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as enabling them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success.

Additional References:

  1. Shek, D. T., Dou, D., Zhu, X., & Chai, W. (2019). Positive youth development: Current perspectives. Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, 10, 131–141.
  2. Bear, G. G., Yang, C., Mantz, L. S., & Harris, A. B. (2017). School-wide practices associated with school climate in elementary, middle, and high schools. Teaching and Teacher Education, 63, 372–383.
  3. Bear, G. G. (2020). Improving school climate: Practical strategies to reduce behaviour problems and promote social and emotional learning. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
  4. Garandeau, C. F., Lee, I. A., & Salmivalli, C. (2018). Decreases in the proportion of bullying victims in the classroom: Efects on the adjustment of remaining victims. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 42, 64–72.

Key Takeaway: 

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is necessary for the academic achievement of a student and for their future success in many aspects of their lives. Ensuring that SEL is taught with fidelity is a goal for many schools and depends not only on instructional support, but other factors such as years of teaching, and rigorous classroom management. —Shekufeh Monadjem

The Importance of Social and Emotional Learning

Students learn best when they are in a caring and safe environment, where they have trusting relationships with their teachers and peers. These relationships promote the development of social and emotional skills that are crucial for “academic achievement and life success.”1 In their study, Thierry, Vincent, and Norris (2022) explained that in order to foster social and emotional learning (SEL) among students, they suggest using the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development’s (2018) recommendations for districts and schools. One of these recommendations is the adoption of an evidence-based SEL curriculum for the explicit instruction of social and emotional skills.

The Importance of Using Fidelity When Implementing Curriculum

One major factor to consider when introducing a new curriculum is ensuring that it is being used with fidelity, in order for students to make the maximum gains. A number of research reviews confirm that SEL curricula when implemented with “high levels of fidelity are more likely to improve students’ social-emotional competence and academic performance.”2 

Other important factors are the socio-emotional competency levels of teachers and their ability to build positive relationships with students. This is based on five core competencies:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship skills 
  • Responsible decision-making

Building positive relationships with students requires teachers to be skilled in all competencies. 


Sixty pre-kindergarten to 1st-grade teachers participated in this US-based study from 7 schools. 52% of the participants were African-American, 30% White, and 18% Hispanic. The following teacher-level predictors were examined over the period of the first month in which the curriculum was implemented: “1) teacher demographics, including ethnicity/race and years of teaching experience; 2) self-efficacy for managing classroom behavior; 3) emotional support; 4) classroom organization; and 5) instructional support.”

The scoring system used was the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), which has shown to be a valid and reliable tool that “essentially operationalizes positive teacher-student relationships according to specific interactions that teachers have in capturing the following three domains of teacher-student interactions: (1) emotional support, (2) classroom organization, and (3) instructional support.”3 Independent observers assessed teachers on these interactions during the initial month of the curriculum.


Teachers with “greater pre-implementation classroom management self-efficacy and more teaching experience had higher adherence to the curriculum” and therefore had higher levels of fidelity. Hispanic teachers who taught bilingual classes were less likely than White, non-Hispanic teachers to adhere to the curriculum schedule, as they needed more implementation support to match their caseload. Instructional support proved to be the only positive predictor of the quality of lesson delivery.

Limitations of the Study

One limitation of the study was the small sample size, and another was that only the initial fidelity of the first month of the implementation of the curriculum was measured, not the long-term delivery.

Summarized Article:

Thierry, K. L., Vincent, R. L., & Norris, K. (2022). Teacher-level predictors of the fidelity of implementation of a social-emotional learning curriculum. Early Education and Development, 33(1), 92-106.

Summary by: Shekufeh Monadjem – Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as enabling them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success. 

Additional References:

  1. Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early social emotional functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. Journal of Public Health, 105(11), 2283–2290.
  2. Derzon, J. H., Sale, E., Springer, J. F., & Brounstein, P. (2005). Estimating intervention effectiveness: Synthetic projection of field evaluation results. Journal of Primary Prevention, 26(4), 321–343.
  3. Burchinal, M., Vandergrift, N., Pianta, R. C., & Mashburn, A. J. (2010). Threshold analysis of association between child care quality and child outcomes for low-income children in pre-kindergarten programs. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25(2), 166–176.

Key Takeaway:

School-wide interventions that reduce bullying can also reduce school attendance problems. Interventions in this area should also be targeted towards autistic youth as they experience a high rate of school refusal linked to the bullying occurring in school settings. Identification of attributes such as the ability to maintain control when angry and the ability to control negative thoughts can help protect this population from school refusal and may be a potential pathway for effective interventions.—Ayla Reau 

School Refusal

School refusal (SR) is “characterized by a young person’s reluctance or refusal to attend school in conjunction with emotional distress.” This is typically measured on a threshold for absence or difficulty attending over a certain period. Emerging school refusal (ESR) is the term used to describe the period before these thresholds are reached. Absence from school can negatively impact “academic achievement and socio-emotional outcomes, contribute to family stress, and place extra burden on school staff,” so early intervention is key for students exhibiting ESR. 

Bullying, ASD, and Psychological Resilience

It is widely accepted that being bullied is associated with SR in youth. Youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are especially vulnerable to bullying in mainstream settings, which could explain the “high rate of SR among autistic youth.” Therefore, there is a need for interventions that reduce SR and ESR among bullied youth. 

“Psychological resilience refers to an individual’s capacity to resist the harmful effects of adverse stressors and to resume functioning despite them.” It has been associated with “reduced anxiety and depression among autistic boys, parents who have an autistic child, and non-autistic siblings of a young autistic person.” The current study focuses on the link between psychological resilience and ESR in bullied autistic youth, and data was collected through an online questionnaire completed by 58 young autistic males. 

Major Findings

  • 56% of bullied autistic youth asked their parents to stay home from school because of bullying (ie. displayed ESR). 
  • A significant inverse relationship (one increases, the other decreases) was found between ESR and two aspects of psychological resilience: the ability to maintain control when angry and the ability to control negative thoughts.
  • No statistical relationship was found between psychological resilience and ESR in elementary school children. 

Overall, the “identification of attributes that can help protect bullied autistic youth from engaging in school refusal may be a potential pathway to effective interventions for these young people.” Further studies are needed to determine whether psychological resilience acts as a protective factor against ESR and SR in bullied autistic youth and/or whether the experience of bullying leads to increased resilience and a decreased likelihood of SR happening over time. Regardless, educators and school administrators should carry out school-wide interventions that reduce bullying in order to reduce school attendance problems and foster a sense of well-being and safety at school. 

Summarized Article:

Bitsika, V., Heyne, D. A., & Sharpley, C. F. (2022). The inverse association between psychological resilience and emerging school refusal among bullied autistic youth. Research in developmental disabilities, 120, 104121. 

Summary by: Ayla Reau—Ayla is excited to help continue to grow the MARIO Framework, seeing the potential for it to impact all students across any educational context.

Key Takeaway:

The more frequently and longer students spend time online, the lower the ratings of self-regulation in digital contexts. Yet, parental control and explicit teaching of digital skills can positively impact self-regulation. Technology in the classroom can enhance motivation, collaboration with peers, and engagement; however, it is not clear if the tools hamper skills like attention and self-regulation. —Frankie Garbutt

It is argued that social-emotional skills such as empathy, perspective, self-control and self-regulation are essential skills in the 21st century. However, one must consider how teaching these skills might need to be adapted at home and in school when today’s children have constant access to social media and the internet, requiring a new approach to self-regulation and self-control. The author of this study set out to find “what benefits for, and risks to, students’ cognitive and social and emotional skills are created by ubiquitous access.”

Self-rating is a means to examine the development of social-emotional skills. It “measures extraversion (sociability, engages in class activities), agreeableness  (empathy, wants to help), conscientiousness (self-regulation, perseveres at activities), neuroticism (framed positively as emotional stability), and openness to experience (curiosity, appreciates new experiences).” Technology in the classroom can enhance motivation, collaboration with peers, and engagement, but it is not clear if the tools hamper skills like attention and self-regulation. At home, students’ use of digital tools is largely impacted by “time spent online, types of activities, and parental guidance.” 

Changes in Self-Regulation and Social Skills Due to Technology Use

Initially, the results related to social skills showed a downward trend in the skills of self-regulation in digital and non-digital context, whereas the other skills seemed to not be affected because “ratings of the dimensions most clearly related to social skills, extraversion, and agreeableness did not have a consistent trend.“ The results of the study showed five trends:

  • “Self-regulation in digital contexts was significantly lower (M = 3.05, UL = 3.19) than the equivalent measures in non-digital.“
  • “This pattern of lower self-regulation in digital contexts compared with non-digital contexts was consistent across the ages.”
  • “Ratings of social skills tended to be higher than those for self-regulation.”
  • “Last, ratings of self-regulation in digital contexts appeared to be unrelated to personality dimensions and social skills generally.” 

Implications for Schools

The authors discussed that schools can be beneficial when teaching children about self-regulation in a digital context because metacognitive skills and self-regulation are skills consistently taught, which can respectively support the students’ use of digital tools. 

Moreover, “like self-regulation, the community of practice involving parents, teachers, and students had a focus on positive online interactions. In contrast, engaging in social media activities at home was associated with higher ratings of social skills in digital (but not in non-digital) contexts.”

Overall, schools are an environment in which students can learn valuable skills, such as self-regulation and social skills, in the ever increasing digital world when complimented by parental involvement and guidance at home. The authors suggest that further research should investigate how parents and schools can respectively support the building of these skills. 

Summarized Article:

McNaughton, S., Zhu, T., Rosedale, N., Jesson, R., Oldehaver, J., & Williamson, R. (2022). In school and out of school digital use and the development of children’s self‐regulation and social skills. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(1), 236-257.

Summary by: Frankie Garbutt – Frankie believes that the MARIO Framework encourages students to become reflective, independent learners who progress at their own rate.

Key Takeaway:

Research has recently focused on how the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of the population, especially amongst adolescents. But the flip side is now being observed — in families where strength-based parenting is practiced, young people are actually thriving and building resilience from the challenges imposed on them in the past two years. —Shekufeh Monadjem

This study by Allen et al. (2022) examined the psychosocial factors that “influence the capacity of adolescents to grow through the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Research focus on mental health

“As daily routines and social connectivity have become increasingly disrupted by mounting restrictions, both the media and academic research have focused on the mental health of populations affected by the pandemic.” Recent studies have “demonstrated symptoms of increased stress and mental illness in the general population when compared to pre-pandemic times, particularly in children and adolescents.”1 Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to being negatively impacted by major changes in their world, as they are going through a critical period of identity formation founded on building connections with peers. “It is not surprising, therefore, that the restrictions and disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have compromised the mental health of young people.”2

Positive stress-induced growth 

However, according to Ord et al. (2020),3 compelling research suggests that stress is not always a negative influence and that people, including children and adolescents, can grow and thrive as a result of times of stress. This idea has received less research attention, and according to Bruining et al. (2020)4 “if studies continue to focus on morbidity, an understanding of how people cope and grow through this pandemic will not be achieved.”

While schools, offices, and shops have been closed, walks in nature have continued to be permitted, with recent research indicating that “adolescents who spend more time engaging in outdoor activities during lockdowns experience smaller declines in subjective wellbeing and show greater resilience to COVID-19 related stress.”5 Increased family time, decreased daily stress, and a reduction in sensory stimulation are additional identified benefits of COVID-19, with these family, environmental, and lifestyle changes being linked to “a decrease in child and adolescent mental illness symptoms and an improvement in wellbeing.”4

Strength-based parenting (SBP)

Parenting plays a large role in how young people react to difficulties; SBP is a style of parenting that seeks to identify and cultivate positive states and qualities in one’s children. Parents who practice SBP: “(a) recognize what their child can do well and (b) support their child to practice and cultivate their known and unrealized strengths.”6 Research collected in teenage samples shows that SBP is “positively related to life satisfaction, self-confidence, subjective well-being, and positive emotions, and negatively related to (e.g., is protective against) anxiety, depression, stress, and negative emotions.”7 According to Unicef (2020),2 SBP plays an important role in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in which adolescents are experiencing increased symptoms of mental illness and parents and children are spending more time at home on account of lockdown. Teenagers are now relying heavily on their parents for vital sources of support. This heightened reliance on parents means that the style of parenting received during lockdown is likely to have a significant impact on the degree to which an adolescent is able to grow through the stress they are experiencing.


Overall, the study found that there was a direct correlation between strength-based parenting (SBP) and stress-related growth, particularly during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Summarized Article:

Allen, K. A., Waters, L., Arslan, G., & Prentice, M. (2022). Strength-based parenting and stress-related growth in adolescents: Exploring the role of positive reappraisal, school belonging, and emotional processing during the pandemic. Journal of Adolescence, 1–15.

Summary by: Shekufeh Monadjem –  Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as enabling them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success. 

Additional References:

  1. World Health Organization (WHO). (2020). Adolescent mental health fact sheet.
  2. United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). (2020). “Living in limbo”: The views of young people in Australia at the start of the COVID‐19 pandemic and national response.
  3. Ord, A. S., Stranahan, K. R., Hurley, R. A., & Taber, K. H. (2020). Stress‐related growth: Building a more resilient brain. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 32(3), A4–A212.
  4. Bruining, H., Bartels, M., Polderman, T. J. C., & Popma, A. (2020). COVID‐19 and child and adolescent psychiatry: An unexpected blessing for part of our population? European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 30(7), 1139–1140.
  5. Jackson, S. B., Stevenson, K. T., Larson, L. R., Peterson, M. N., & Seekamp, E. (2021). Outdoor activity participation improves adolescents’ mental health and wellbeing during the COVID‐19 pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(5), 2506.
  6. Arslan, G., Allen, K.‐A., & Waters, L. E. (2020). Strength‐based parenting and academic motivation in adolescents during COVID‐19 pandemic: Exploring the effect of school belonging and strength use. [Unpublished manuscript].
  7. Jach, H. K., Sun, J., Loton, D., Chin, T. C., & Waters, L. E. (2018). Strengths and subjective wellbeing in adolescence: Strength-based parenting and the moderating effect of mindset. Journal of Happiness Studies, 19(2), 567-586.

Key Takeaway:

In order to support early childhood learners, parents and teachers have to work hand-in-hand to ensure that the child is receiving the care they need to be successful in school. Having a teacher that focuses on care is more important for parents than any academic focus. —Shekufeh Monadjem

In the early childhood education community, the importance of working with families and forming relationships with them is a longstanding pillar. This qualitative study by Luke, Vail, Roulston and Clees (University of Georgia, 2021) examined parents’ expectations of their “journey into special education and their relationships with special education preschool teachers.”

Student-Teacher Relationships for Students with Disabilities 

“Researchers in the field of early childhood emphasize the importance of parents and teachers working together”1 and “early childhood professional organizations have made this relationship a matter of ethical responsibility.”2,3 Ultimately, there appears to be “better outcomes for all young children when their parents and teachers work together.”1,2 

Family-centered practice has been the cornerstone for educating young children for the past few decades1 and some of the strategies used to build caring and trusting relationships with families of children have been “identifying families’ strengths, valuing diversity in the classroom environment, learning about what families like to do, respecting parents’ knowledge, and using parents’ ideas and feedback.” 

However, this is not the case with families of children with disabilities. Despite the emphasis on family-centered practice in the “literature, legislation, and professional associations, practitioners continue to struggle to build these partnerships with the families of children with disabilities.”4 

Parent Values in a Student-Teacher Relationship

Although findings from studies related to family-centered practices for young children without disabilities are certainly applicable to working with young children in general, young children with disabilities have exceptional factors that ought to be scrutinized more closely.5 For example, many have limited communication skills, and their families must rely on teachers for more specific information about what takes place at school rather than hearing about it from their children. 

Over the years, researchers have identified family-centered parent-teacher relationships as relationships characterized by “mutual respect, flexibility and responsive interactions,”6 ”trust,”7 and “collaborative problem solving.”8 Furthermore, teachers’ professional competence, skill, and communication are of great concern to families and “contribute to parents’ positive perceptions of parent-teacher relationships.”9 

Recently, in the field of early childhood education, Rattenborg et al. (2019)10 found that “parents of typically developing children desired bidirectional communication rather than task-oriented advice.” According to the authors, participants in this study did not “emphasize an expressed desire for their children’s teachers to give them lists of things to do or homework to complete, but rather participants focused on the caring nature of the communication between themselves and their children’s teachers.” They also “focused on their expectations for how teachers should show care to them as parents within the parent-teacher relationships” as well as how to care for their children.

Summarized Article:

Luke, S. E., Vail, C. O., Roulston, K., & Clees, T. J. (2021). Examining the Expectations of Parents of Young Children with Disabilities from a “Care” Perspective. Exceptionality, 29(5), 344-358.

Summary by: Shekufeh – Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as empowering them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success.

Additional References:

  1. Copple, C., & Bredekamp, S. (Eds.). (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8 (3rd ed.). NAEYC.
  2. Division for Early Childhood. (2014). DEC recommended practices in early intervention/early childhood special education 2014. Author.
  3. National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. Author.
  4. Buren, M. K., Maggin, D. M., & Brown, C. (2018). Meta-synthesis on the experiences of families from nondominant communities and special education collaboration. Exceptionality, 1–20.
  5. Bredekamp, S. (1993). The relationship between early childhood education and early childhood special education: Healthy marriage or family feud? Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 13(3), 258–273.
  6. Dunst, C. J. (2002). Family-centered practices: Birth through high school. The Journal of Special Education, 36(3), 139–147.
  7. Angell, M. E., Stoner, J. B., & Shelden, D. L. (2009). Trust in education professionals: Perspectives of mothers of children with disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 30(3), 160–176.
  8. Kuhn, M., Marvin, C. A., & Knoche, L. L. (2017). In it for the long haul: Parent–teacher partnerships for addressing preschool children’s challenging behaviors. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 37(2), 81–93.
  9. Blue-Banning, M., Summers, J. A., Frankland, H. C., Nelson, L. L., & Beegle, G. (2004). Dimensions of family and professional partnerships: Constructive guidelines for collaboration. Exceptional Children, 70(2), 167–184.
  10. Rattenborg, K., Macphee, D., Walker, A. K., & Miller-Heyl, J. (2019). Pathways to parent engagement: Understanding the contributions of parents, teachers, and schools in cultural context. Early Education and Development, 30(3), 315–336.

Key Takeaway:

Social and emotional learning (SEL) continues to grow in popularity in school curriculums as a means to promote academic success and healthy development. However, students with disabilities may require specific interventions that address particular needs, thus calling on general educators to consider the effectiveness of their SEL interventions in order to best support all learners. — Taryn McBrayne 

Do Universal SEL Interventions Help All Students?

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is becoming increasingly prominent in mainstream classroom curricula. According to Dusenbury et al., (2018), “all states [in the US] have integrated SEL into preschool academic standards and 14 have done so through high school.”1 However, given that many students with special education needs are in general education classroom settings, the authors of this article, Daley & McCarthy (2021), suggest that we must also question “whether and how students with disabilities are considered” in universal SEL interventions in order to determine the effectiveness of such curricula. 

Daley & McCarty and CASEL (2015)2 emphasize that SEL interventions for students with disabilities “tend to focus on supporting the skills, knowledge, and strategies of individual students, whereas universal SEL interventions may address individual students’ development, focus broadly on classroom or school climate, or may combine these strands.” The need to accommodate for various learning differences and stages of development, in combination with an overall lack of educator knowledge in this domain,3 means that further attention should be placed on investigating how to improve SEL interventions for all learners, including those with disabilities.

A Systematic Review of Middle and High School Interventions

The authors completed a systematic review of numerous peer-reviewed studies published prior to 2019 in addition to CASEL and RAND reports in an attempt to further understand the effectiveness of universal SEL interventions. The review targeted interventions amongst middle and high school students, given that SEL can be particularly challenging for students with disabilities in this age group, and addressed 3 key research questions: 

  1. To what degree are students with disabilities included as participants in studies of universal SEL interventions for middle and high school students?
  2. What evidence suggests attention to students with disabilities in the design of universal SEL interventions for middle and high school students?
  3. What evidence suggests effectiveness of universal SEL interventions specifically for middle and high school students with disabilities? 

Key Findings

In response to the first research question: 

  • The authors found that “students with disabilities receive minimal attention in reports of middle and high-school SEL interventions,” meaning that it was unknown whether or not these students were present during SEL interventions or not. 

In response to the second research question: 

  • The study found inconclusive results on how much training staff had on providing SEL interventions for students with disabilities. 
  • “Similarly, accommodations, modifications, and differentiation as part of intervention materials were described in only 10 studies,” suggesting that training materials may not be accessible in most schools. 
  • However, most literature mentioned various differentiation models, including school-wide positive behavioral intervention and supports (PBIS), multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), or a comprehensive, integrated, three-tiered model of prevention, showing promise for supporting all learners. 

In response to the third research question: 

  • Four studies involving a bullying prevention intervention showed that “students with disabilities tended to exhibit different intervention effects than peers without disabilities,” yet the long-term success of these effects remained unclear. 

Based on the analysis provided by Daley & McCarthy, several implications can be drawn. To begin, the literature review demonstrates the need for increased reporting on the percentage of students with disabilities and the documentation of the type of disability in SEL interventions in order to better evaluate the effectiveness of universal interventions. As well, it is evident that educators require additional training on best practices for differentiation, such as Universal Design for Learning. A third implication is the “potential role of approaches used in special education practice to more directly inform the design of universal SEL interventions.” 

In conclusion, Daley & McCarthy acknowledge that “because the majority of studies do not specify whether students with disabilities were included . . . these findings merely reflect what has been reported.” Thus, more robust data is required in order to provide a more nuanced investigation into the topic. Regardless, it is apparent that additional support is needed to improve the inclusivity of universal SEL interventions. 

Summarized Article:

Daley, S. G., & McCarthy, M. F. (2021). Students With Disabilities in Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Systematic Review. Remedial and Special Education, 42(6), 384–397.

Summary by: Taryn McBrayne — Taryn believes in the power of student voice and, through the MARIO Framework, strives to create more opportunities for both educators and students to regularly make use of this power.

Additional References:

  1. Dusenbury, L. A., Dermody, C., & Weissberg, R. P. (2018). Statescorecardscan.
  2. CASEL. (2015). 2015 CASEL guide: Effective social and emotional learning programs—Middle and high school edition. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (n.d.).
  3. Pavri, S., & Hegwer-DiVita, M. (2006). Meeting the social and emotional needs of students with disabilities: The special educators’ perspective. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 22(2), 139–153. International Pty Ltd. (2018). NVivo for Mac [Computer software].

Key Takeaway: 

The pandemic has sparked many questions about the wellbeing of youth in today’s society, shedding light on issues such as stress and time management, social media exposure, obesity, and educational disparity amongst others. With the shift to online learning, the pandemic has not only compromised academic progress for students but has also led to a lack of social-emotional support, especially for those students coming from underprivileged backgrounds. Thus, educators must become critical advocates of hope in order to foster a sense of hope for our most vulnerable learners as we look ahead to the years following the peak of the pandemic. —Taryn McBrayne 

Hope Theory

In this article, author Bruce Barnett (2021) shares insight into how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and despair amongst students. A survey of students by Brooker (2020) reveals that “over 50% report declining mental health; deteriorating family relationships; increasing loneliness and anxiety; and being despondent about losing friends, job opportunities, scholarships and compromising college plans.”1 Without educators and administrators having regular contact with students and their families to work through these challenges due to online learning, “students’ emotional fragility is affecting their motivation and drive to engage and succeed in school activities.” 

The author specifically focuses on the conditions affecting urban communities and schools during this time. “Many urban communities have high rates of poverty, family mobility, homelessness, incarceration, and drug abuse.”2,3 As a result, Barnett (2021) and Duckworth (2016)4 suggest that youth raised in these environments are more likely to have their sense of hopelessness reinforced, particularly during challenging times.

Barnett (2021) challenges educators to consider how they can nurture hope in their own contexts, emphasizing that hope-building programs, such as Making Hope Happen and Kids at Hope, need to become embedded into our schools. However, Barnett (2021) argues that these programs alone may not be enough to help our students, and states that “when educators understand the guiding elements of hope, they are better prepared to design and deliver programs and other instructional activities.” 

The article uses hope theory as a basis for helping educators and schools understand how best to foster hope amongst their students. This theory suggests that hopeful individuals are able to set goals, have the agency to achieve goals, and are able to identify pathways to overcome any obstacles to achieving the goals that they set for themselves.5,6 Below are strategies outlined in the article that may help educators with the implementation of hope theory in their daily practice. 

Setting Goals 

“Establishing and monitoring goals requires individuals to determine an accomplishment to be achieved, identify measurable outcomes, set timelines and milestones, and assess personal and resource costs.”7 Setting clear goals from the start will allow students to accurately assess where they are in their goal progress. 

Possessing Agency 

To promote the development of agency, “teachers are being encouraged to use a variety of SEL strategies, such as reflective journal writing, artistic expression, active listening, buddy systems, role playing, mindfulness, and discussions about growth mindsets and empathy,”8 in addition to allowing individual choice and self-monitoring of goal progress. 

Establishing Pathways

“Solution-focused training includes “solution talk” rather than “problem talk” by encouraging students to counter their negative self-talk by substituting positive self-statements (e.g., “I can do this,” “I’m a capable person”).”9 Educators may also work in partnership with school counselors to assist students in this problem-solving process. 

The article places emphasis on educators fostering “critical hope” for their students as compared to “false hope.” Barnett explains that “critical hope results when educators provide students with high-quality teaching and learning resources to help them gain a sense of control in their lives; examine the realities of injustice, oppression, and marginalization they face; and stand alongside students to share their pain, suffering, and successes.”

In conclusion, although fostering a sense of hope will not necessarily resolve the economic and social disparities caused by the pandemic, Barnett believes that it can help students to display more desired academic, social, and emotional behaviors overall, thus improving 21st-century life and career outcomes in the future. 

Summarized Article:

Barnett, B. G. (2021). How Can Schools Increase Students’ Hopefulness Following the Pandemic? Education and Urban Society. 

Summary by: Taryn McBrayne — Taryn believes in the power of student voice and, through the MARIO Framework, strives to create more opportunities for both educators and students to regularly make use of this power.

Additional References:

  1. Brooker, J. (2020). Schools bring mindfulness to the classroom to help kids in the COVID-19 crisis. The Hechinger Report. 
  2. Duke, D. L. (2008). The little school system that could: Transforming a city school district. State University of New York Press.
  3. Picus, L. O., Marion, S. F., Calvo, N., & Glenn, W. J. (2005). Understanding the relationship between student achievement and the quality of educational facilities: Evidence from Wyoming. Peabody Journal of Education, 80(3), 71–95.
  4. Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance. Scribner. 
  5. Helland, M. R., & Winston, B. E. (2005). Towards a deeper understanding of hope and leadership. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 12(2), 42–54.
  6. Luthans, F., & Jensen, S. M. (2002). Hope: A new positive strength for human resource development. Human Resource Development Review, 1, 304–322.
  7. Rouillard, L. E. (2003). Goals and goal setting: Achieving measured objectives (3rd ed.). Crisp Publications.
  8. Singh, N. (2020). 15 strategies to incorporate Social Emotional Learning in classrooms. 
  9. Snyder, C. R., Feldman, D. B., Shorey, H. S., & Rand, K. L. (2002). Hopeful choices: A school counselor’s guide to hope theory. Professional School Counseling, 5, 298–307. 

Key Takeaway

There appears to have been a decline in self-esteem and self-efficacy among teachers forced to make a rapid switch to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the cases of teachers working closely with students with learning disabilities. —Shekufeh Monadjem

Relationships Matter

The importance of relationships, and in particular those in school settings, is a theme that has begun to come to the forefront in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cataudella et al. (2021) from the University of Cagliari in Italy investigated how the pandemic has affected teachers’ self-esteem and self-efficacy while trying to maintain meaningful relationships with their students. 

The sudden shift from face-to-face learning to online learning has “made policy-makers and educators realise the importance of human socioemotional aspects in the relationships between teachers and students”. Teachers suddenly had to deliver their lessons using technological tools, including specific online platforms, in order to reach their students. 

Although some teachers were ready to face the situation, a large majority had to adapt their teaching in a short time “without training, with insufficient capacity, and little preparation.” As a result, students became deprived of social, face-to-face interaction among their peers, and teachers and parents were forced to be more involved because of the need for monitoring school lessons at home. 

Teacher Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy: Measurement and Results

The research in this article focused on the self-esteem and self-efficacy levels of the teachers, respectively defined as an “individual’s consideration of his/her own self as competent and important, as well as perceiving oneself as successful and valuable” and “a person’s conviction in their ability to succeed in a particular situation.”  Job satisfaction levels were measured among the teachers, as well as psychological, physiological, and environmental conditions that can generally guarantee positive feelings towards work,1 which, in turn, increase the rate of productivity and sense of well-being. “Among the variables found in the literature, self-esteem and self-efficacy were found to play an important role in job satisfaction and in the ability to meet or address changes.” The variables which had an effect on teachers’ job satisfaction were also found to have an effect on teacher-student and teacher-parent communication, as well as the aspect of collaboration. 

The results of this study “showed lower self-esteem and lower self-efficacy levels in the teachers who were involved with distance learning as compared with the normative sample.” Self-esteem and self-efficacy also decreased in teachers with greater service seniority at work, and it was usually these teachers who supported students with learning disorders. A consistent supportive context was present for the majority of students with learning disabilities who were successful in their online learning environment. This aspect of providing remote support, which added extra stress, resulted in the decline in job satisfaction rates among teachers in senior positions.

Summarized Article:

Cataudella, S., Carta, S. M., Mascia, M. L., Masala, C., Petretto, D. R., Agus, M., & Penna, M. P. (2021). Teaching in times of the COVID-19 pandemic: A pilot study on teachers’ self-esteem and self-efficacy in an Italian sample. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(15), 8211.

Summary by: Shekufeh – Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as empowering them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success. 

Additional References:

  1. Baluyos, G. R., Rivera, H. L., & Baluyos, E. L. (2019). Teachers’ job satisfaction and work performance. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 7(08), 206.

Key Takeaway

During the COVID-19 lockdown, there was a rise in sibling conflict in families where at least one child had moderate special educational needs and disabilities (SENDs). These young people with special needs were both the instigators and receivers of the conflict, and it was mainly those with severe and complex needs that were spared this conflict. —Shekufeh

Sibling Conflict and Special Needs

In one of the first articles of its kind, Toseeb (University of York, 2021) investigated the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on families with children that had special education needs. The main focus was on sibling conflict during and after the first lockdown in the United Kingdom in families where at least one child has special needs. 

According to Toseeb, “at their highest level (the third month of lockdown), three out of four young people with [SENDs] were being picked on or hurt by their siblings and four out of five were picking on or hurting their siblings on purpose.” The study showed that boys were more likely to be involved in persistent sibling conflict than girls.1 

Mental Health

In addition, those with pre-existing mental health difficulties, low self-esteem, or social difficulties are also more likely to be involved in persistent sibling conflict.2,3 This also affects the parents of young people with SENDs, “who may experience higher levels of psychological distress compared with parents of neurotypical young people,”4 thus increasing the risk of intra-familial conflict.5 Additionally, young people with SENDs may “require disproportionate time, attention, and support from parents fuelling competitive behaviour and aggression amongst siblings.”6

Social Skills

Social and communication difficulties may make children with special needs more prone to being picked on by siblings, as is the case for conflict with peers.7 “Neurotypical siblings of young people with SENDs may also have some social impairments, such as not being able to respond appropriately in social situations,8 which may increase the risk of escalation of sibling conflict.“

Birth Order and Family Size

First-born children in a family were more likely to be victimized by their

siblings compared with those who were born second or later. Additionally, as the number of siblings increased, so did the frequency of victimization. In addition to this, “those siblings with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were more likely to pick on or hurt their siblings compared with those without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” (Toseeb, 2021).

Communication Skills

Young people who were minimally verbal, enrolled in non-mainstream educational placement, or had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) were less likely to be victimized by their siblings compared with those who were verbal, enrolled in a mainstream school, or those who did not have an IEP, respectively.

Children who were minimally verbal appeared to be somewhat protected from sibling conflict, both in terms of victimization and perpetration. It may be that siblings of young people with complex or severe SENDs perceive the attention directed towards their affected sibling as warranted and therefore are less likely to compete for parental resources.9 

Alternatively, it may be that “siblings of those with complex or severe SENDs adopt a more parent-like approach in the face of adversity. This is in line with the family systems approach whereby if one member of the family is affected with a SEND, then other members of the family tend to adapt to accommodate.”10

Summarized Article:

Toseeb, U. (2021) Sibling conflict during COVID-19 in families with special educational needs and disabilities. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 2021.

Summary by: Shekufeh—Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as empowering them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success. 

Additional References:

  1. Tucker, C. J., Finkelhor, D., Shattuck, A. M., & Turner, H. (2013). Prevalence and correlates of sibling victimization types. Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 37(4), pp. 213–223.
  2. Dantchev, S., & Wolke, D. (2019). Trouble in the nest: Antecedents of sibling bullying victimization and perpetration. Developmental Psychology, vol. 55(5), pp. 1059–1071.
  3. Phillips, D. A., Bowie, B. H., Wan, D. C., & Yukevich, K. W. (2016). Sibling violence and children hospitalized for serious mental and behavioral health problems. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 33, pp. 2558–2578.
  4. Hoffman, C. D., Sweeney, D. P., Hodge, D., Lopez-Wagner, M. C., & Looney, L. (2009). Parenting stress and closeness: Mothers of typically developing children and mothers of children with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, vol. 24(3), pp. 178–187.
  5. Lee, S., & Ward, K. (2020). Stress and parenting during the coronavirus pandemic. Retrieved from
  6. Felson, R. B. (1983). Aggression and violence between siblings. Social Psychology Quarterly, vol. 46(4), pp. 271–285.
  7. Cappadocia, M. C., Weiss, J. A., & Pepler, D. (2012). Bullying experiences among children and youth with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 42(2), pp. 266–277.
  8. Constantino, J. N., Lajonchere, C., Lutz, M., Gray, T., Abbacchi, A., McKenna, K., … Todd, R. D. (2006). Autistic social impairment in the siblings of children with pervasive developmental disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 163(2), pp. 294–296.
  9. Kowal, A., Krull, J. L., Kramer, L., & Crick, N. R. (2002). Children’s perceptions of the fairness of parental preferential treatment and their socioemotional well-be Interpersonal Development, vol. 16(3), pp. 297–306.
  10. Turnbull, A. P., Summers, J. A., & Brotherson, M. J. (1986). Family life cycle: Theoretical and empirical implications and future directions for families with mentally retarded members. In J. J. Gallagher & P. M. Vietze (Eds.), Families of handicapped persons: Research, programs, and policy issues (pp. 445–477). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.