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The prevalence of depression among adolescents and early adolescents in China has received more attention in recent years. Few studies have examined the influence of both autonomy and relatedness support combined as a protective and corrective effect on depression. The authors find the Chinese context a “strong testing ground for the universal importance of the combined impacts of autonomy and relatedness support on depression.” The authors examine the trends in depression in a 3-year longitudinal study investigating the impacts of teacher autonomy and support and teacher-student relationships on students’ depressive symptoms.

How teachers can help students

Some studies have shown that teacher autonomy support can act as a protective factor against student depression. In a teaching context, this means providing students with choice, providing rationale for tasks, showing respect and allowing the expression of negative effects. 

Again studies have indicated that positive teacher-student relationships act as a protective factor against student depressive symptoms, including enhancing students’ social competence. 

The Chinese education context is characterized by high-stakes testing and exam systems and more authoritative teaching styles. This highly competitive system has caused unique features of depression in Chinese students. Meta-analyses suggest that contrary to the gender differences reported in Western cultures for Chinese primary and middle school students there are no significant gender differences in the prevalence of depressive symptoms. The great value that Chinese culture places on interpersonal harmony also means that the quality of interpersonal relationships exerted a stronger impact on depressive symptoms in Chinese adolescents than in their western counterparts.

The importance of teacher autonomy support

This research is based on a 3-year longitudinal study. Data was collected as part of a large-scale educational assessment of all schools in the Mentou-gou School District, which is located in the western area of Beijing, China. In total, 1613 4th-grade students from 25 primary schools and 1397 7th-grade students from 14 middle schools were recruited during the baseline assessment in 2014. Tracking the same group of students, a second and third assessment was implemented in 2015 and 2016. “The results of this study revealed that for both the primary and middle school samples, teacher autonomy support and teacher–student relationships consistently buffered the students’ depressive symptoms over time.” These findings align with the conclusions from previous studies.

The importance of teacher-student relationships

Gender differences were only present in the primary school sample, with females having a lower initial score that increased significantly over time, compared to the male students whose scores declined over time. In middle school, depressive symptoms increased significantly with a similar rate of change regardless of gender, although females still maintained a higher baseline. The authors suggest that this is different from the Western cultural context (where female students were more likely to show a higher rate of increased depressive symptoms than their male peers) because of Chinese cultural influences. Female students who are more likely to follow and obey rules would receive more positive feedback from teachers and parents, and Chinese females typically academically outperform their male peers at this age, both of which could act as protective factors. 

Students who had higher socioeconomic backgrounds reported lower levels of depressive symptoms. This finding is consistent with current research. 

“The study confirmed the significant effects of teachers’ autonomous and supportive strategies on reducing students’ depressive symptoms in both primary and middle school.” In China, studies have found that interpersonal stress significantly predicted the depression levels of Chinese pupils. This implies that teacher-student relationships are an especially crucial factor in students’ development in a Chinese context, with a higher potential impact to offset students’ depressive symptoms.

Notable Quotes: 

“As indicated by this study, establishing a harmonious and autonomy-supportive school environment could benefit students in many ways and might reduce the potential risks of psychological problems. This implication is particularly meaningful in the schooling context, where the general teaching styles are less autonomy supportive.”

“Therefore, schools should provide teachers with training programmes regarding need-supportive teaching strategies and enhance teachers’ awareness of the importance of mental health.”

“To empower students with more autonomy, teachers could provide students with opportunities to express their thoughts and make choices, show concern for students’ negative emotions, and use noncontrolling language during instruction. In addition, teachers could improve students’ sense of relatedness by listening, expressing care, and being available during difficulties.”

Personal Takeaway:

This study serves as further research on the importance of positive student-teacher relationships and the benefits it has for teaching and learning as well as meeting a student’s developmental, emotional and academic needs. It also highlights the benefits of promoting student autonomy in the learning process. When students are given voice and choice they are more empowered, engaged, and connected to the learning environment, ultimately having positive impacts on both their academic and mental-wellbeing.


Ayla Reau

Summarized Article:

Zhang, D., Jin, B., & Cui, Y. (2021). Do teacher autonomy support and teacher–student relationships influence students’ depression? A 3-year longitudinal study. School Mental Health: A Multidisciplinary Research and Practice Journal. Advance online publication.

Key Takeaway: 

School-based violence towards students with disabilities in Zambia is perpetuated by fellow students and teachers. This study examines the reasons teachers are reluctant to deal with stigmatized violence, while emphasizing that special educators have been advocating for and promoting ways to prevent this violence.  Some solutions offered are clear governmental policies with enforcement, teacher training and professional development, anonymous reporting, and developing an anti-violence intervention program. —Tanya Farrol

School Violence in Zambia

An estimated 246 million children experience violence in school every year, which is approximately 1 in 4  students.1 In Zambia, 63% of students are bullied by their peers, and 97% receive corporal punishments from their teachers.2  School violence affects student participation and performance at school and leads to students dropping out. This then leads to unemployment or receiving lower wages due to a lack of education. The violence even impacts their own children, as children exposed to violence are more likely to perpetrate violence against their future children.3

School violence is found to be greater for those students with disabilities than their non-disabled peers due to stigma related factors like stereotypes and prejudice. In high-income countries, “children with disabilities experience violence four times more frequently than non-disabled children.”4 However, not many studies have looked at the prevalence of school based violence towards children with disabilities in low and middle-income countries. This study aims to provide data in this unexamined area as 85% of children with disabilities live in low and middle-income countries.5 It is believed that “violence against children with disabilities can be expected to be higher in Zambia where there are greater stigmas associated with having a disability, fewer resources available for families who have children with disabilities, and a wider accepted use of corporal punishment in disciplining children.”6 

UNICEF estimates that 4.4% of the children in Zambia have disabilities—a country with an estimated population of 17 million.7 There is a higher rate of disability among the female population and visual impairments are the most common type of disability. Zambia ratified the United Nations’ Rights of the Persons with Disabilities in 2010 and worked to provide inclusive policies in the Education Act  2011.8 Despites these policies, it was found that students with disabilities did not attend or were less likely to be enrolled in schools, especially if they were female or lived in a rural area. 

In Zambia, many schools still practice corporal punishment even though it is banned by the government. In 2014, UNICEF found that school violence against children was both physical and sexual, usually perpetrated by people the victim knew, including teachers and peers. However, there is limited research on the “response of teachers to disability-based violence” in Zambia.

Beliefs that Sustain Violence in Schools

One hundred and thirty-five participants took part in the study with 90 students with disabilities, 33 teachers or administrators and 12 parents of the children with disabilities. The students had a variety of disabilities ranging from visual impairments to intellectual impairment. Of the schools, 7 were primary and 2 were secondary.

The violence reported was perpetrated by both students and teachers, with name-calling and bullying by non-disabled students and corporal punishment by  teachers. Also, students with disabilities reported being excluded from games by their non-disabled peers.

Shockingly, “teachers most often did not report or address incidents after witnessing or hearing about violence towards students with disabilities no matter the type of severity of the violence.” This can be attributed to the beliefs held by the teacher, including but not limited to the following:

  • Victim Blaming: Teachers did not believe an incident had occurred because it was in the child’s imagination.
  • Grow Up As Real Boys: Being bullied is seen as a rite of passage by many teachers for boys to grow up as ‘real boys.’
  • Brother’s Keeper: Students are expected to care for one another and deal with the school violence themselves. This absolves the teacher from responding and puts the onus on a student with disabilities’ friends to help deal with violence.
  • Forgiveness: Students with disabilities need to practice the Christian belief of “forgive and forget” when harmed. Many students are taught to not report harm or ask for help.
  • Lack of Direction: Teachers were not sure of what to do or had little training in child protection. Also, if there were school policies in place, many were not implemented.

How Teachers Responded to Violence

When teachers did respond to violence, they would often punish the perpetrators.  Students would be either suspended, expelled, or reported to a higher authority.  Teachers who were violent towards their students would be reported to the police if witnessed by another teacher or administration.

However, some teachers responded to the violence with preventive or caring actions to support the victims. This was usually the special education teacher, even though they were often discouraged by the administration to respond to violence in schools. It was found that special educators did not have the authority to advocate for better treatment and were often “overruled” by other teachers.

Solutions to Violence in Schools

The main findings of this study were that school is “an unsafe place for students with disabilities in Zambia,” and that much of the “violence goes unaddressed and unreported.”  In order to combat school violence, the following were presented as possible solutions by the authors:

  • Setting up a clear reporting process for all staff to follow in every school.  The reporting process needs to be anonymous.
  • Students with disabilities have less power in dealing with stigmatized school violence and require teachers to intervene and stop instances of violence the first time they occur. This ensures that the violence does not escalate over time.9
  • Schools need to implement an anti-violence strategy that emphasizes the role of the up-stander.
  • Schools should build on successful anti-bullying and gender-based school violence intervention programs to include violence towards students with disabilities.
  • Teacher training programs and professional development need to up-skill teachers on how to deal with school violence. Special educators could take the lead in these professional development sessions.
  • The government needs to mandate child protection policies with clear procedures for reporting and monitoring the implementation of those policies. 

The authors acknowledge that this study might not generalize to all contexts and cultures, but that it does have applications for other resource-limited countries. 

Summarized Article:

Janet Njelesani, Jenny Lai, Cecilia M. Gigante, and Jessica Trelles. ‘Will You Protect Me or Make the Situation Worse?: Teachers’ Responses to School Violence Against Students With Disabilities’. Journal of Interpersonal Violence (2021), Vol. 0(0) 1–26.

Summary by: Tanya Farrol – Tanya believes that the MARIO Framework is a personalized learning experience that develops skills and empowers learners to become an integral part of their learning journey.

Academic researcher Janet Njelesani participated in the final version of this summary. 

Additional References:

  1. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2017). School violence and bullying: Global status report. 
  2. Fleming, L. C., & Jacobsen, K. H. (2009, November 2). Bullying among middle-school students in low and middle income countries. OUP Academic. 
  3. Pereznieto, P., Harper, C., Clench, B., Coarasa, J., & Unterhalter, E. (2010). The economic impact of school violence: A report for plan international. Overseas Development Institute. 
  4. Jones, L., Bellis, M., Wood, S., Hughes, K., McCoy, E., Eckley, L., Bates, G., Mikton, C., Shakespeare, T., & Officer, A. (2012). [PDF] prevalence and risk of violence against children with disabilities: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies: Semantic scholar. Lancet, 380 (9845), 899-907. 
  5. Maulik, P. K., & Darmstadt, G. L. (2007, July 1). Childhood disability in low- and middle-income countries: Overview of screening, prevention, services, legislation, and Epidemiology. American Academy of Pediatrics. 
  6. Stoltenborgh, M., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Van Ijzendoorn, M.H., & Alink, L.R. (2013). Cultural-geographical differences in the occurrence of child physical abuse? A meta-analysis of global prevalence. International Journal of Psychology, 48(2), 81-94. 
  7. UNICEF. (2016). Zambia National Disability Survey (2015). UNICEF. 
  8. UNICEF. (2016). Zambia National Disability Survey (2015). UNICEF. 
  9. Yoon, J., Sulkowski, M. L., & Bauman, S. A. (2016). Teachers’ responses to bullying incidents: Effects of teacher characteristics and contexts. Journal of School Violence, 15(1), 91-113. 

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:

Schools can work across the intervention spectrum to promote emotional health and prevent the onset of depression, as well as intervene with students once they have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder. One essential support mechanism is building relationships between students and teachers that can support wellbeing reciprocally. —Frankie Garbutt

There has been a significant increase in numbers of students who are identified with major depressive disorder (MDD)—in Australia about 5% of students and 7.5% of students in the United States. Therefore, it is paramount that schools consider how they will support students with mental health challenges, ensuring they consider the “academic, behavioural, social and emotional implications of the disorder.” In his article, John Burns (Macquarie University, Sydney) outlines “what constitutes best practice” in relation to supporting our students with depressive disorders.

The article adopts a framework that helps in “considering how school-based intervention occurs across the four domains of mental health promotion, prevention, case identification and treatment, as well as maintenance of students with or at-risk of depression.” It sets out to guide practitioners with checklists to identify and support students in a school setting. As outlined in the article, this framework is part of an overall drive to allow students to learn about managing their own physical and mental health in a holistic approach to education. 


It is argued that although prevention for a whole cohort can reduce signs of depression in students, individualized or small group settings have a higher prevention rate. Moreover, “interventions based on cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) have the strongest evidence of efficacy.” According to Burns, one central prevention strategy schools ought to implement is anti-bullying programs alongside the inclusion of parent meetings and increased playground supervision. 


Before students can receive adequate professional treatment, their symptoms must be identified. Often, trained mental health professionals do not have the capacity to see all students, hence it is vital that all school staff are trained and educated in identifying the signs of depression in adolescents. “This has been best articulated within the suicide-prevention model of teachers being ‘gatekeepers’ who can identify at-risk students and then ensure these young people are linked with appropriate follow-up.” Additionally, schools can use screening systems to identify at-risk students among their cohorts. 


Schools can support students by ensuring open dialogues among the parents, students, and any mental health professional working on the student’s case. This should happen alongside a carefully set-out plan for the student on how to manage their symptoms throughout the school day and where to seek support if necessary. However, the student should not attend school if they display elevated signs of suicide risk as this has to be managed externally by relevant professionals.

In regard to academic management, “best practice will require classroom teachers and school systems to make suitable adjustments and accommodations to the academic program that allow the depressed student to fully access the curriculum and demonstrate their learning during assessments.”

The article emphasizes that it does not outline how to support students who self-harm or are suicidal—both signs of depressive disorders—and professionals are advised to select further reading as recommended by the author. Finally, with teaching being such a stressful occupation, there is a correlation between teacher wellbeing and student wellbeing. “Better teacher-student relationships, facilitated by higher teacher wellbeing, becomes a key component to reducing the likelihood of student depression.”

Summarized Article:

Burns, J. R. (2021). Towards best practice in school management of students with depressive disorders. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 31(2), 246-259.

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:

Have you ever thought back on your favorite teacher who had a big influence on your life? Or, maybe, there was a teacher who made you feel useless and terrible. For students with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) symptoms, their connection with teachers and the memories they have about them later on in their life may predict their perceived social support and self-efficacy. People with ADHD symptoms have lower self-efficacy compared to people without ADHD symptoms. Therefore, we cannot ignore how powerful our words and actions can be in the classroom, as they may impact our students’ lives for a very long time. —Michael Ho

ADHD Severity and Self-Efficacy

Schmidt-Barad, Asheri, and Margalit (2021) investigated the relationship between severity levels of ADHD symptoms and self-efficacy. They also examined the mediating role of positive and negative memories of teachers and social support on this relationship. There were two main hypotheses for this study: 

1) The severity levels of ADHD symptoms predict self-efficacy.

2) Memories of both ‘good teachers’ and ‘bad teachers’ and perceptions of social support will mediate the relationship between the severity of ADHD symptoms and self-efficacy outcomes.

Literature Review Takeaways

  • Since many students with ADHD have impulsive and disruptive behavior, they may experience negative and unstable relationships with their teachers. They typically consider their teachers as controlling, and their relationships as negative and challenging.1 
  • Schmidt-Barad et al. (2021) quotes Brinkworth et al. (2018), “student-teacher interrelations may stay as long-term memories, and teachers’ words may continue ringing in the students’ mind, affecting their self-efficacy as a competence indicator even many years afterwards.”2
  • Children and adolescents with ADHD who have experienced consistent difficulties during their studies often develop low self-efficacy, in addition to future low motivation, reduced success, and depleted effort investment.
  • Among students with ADHD, Schmidt-Barad et al. (2021) quotes Babinski et al., (2020) in stating that “their parents experience higher levels of prolonged caregiver strain that predict depressive mood.”3 Since their parents are spending a lot of time dealing with their own mental health, they would have less energy and time to support their children and hence their children may experience perceptions of reduced support.

Study Results

  • 319 adult participants between the ages of 18 and 35 volunteered to participate in the research. Participants responded to online questionnaires posted on Israeli social media as well as online students’ bulletin boards and Dean of Students’ boards across Israeli colleges. 
  • Results indicated that individuals with “higher levels of [ADHD] symptoms reported lower levels of self-efficacy, lower support from family and friends, more memories of bad teachers, and fewer memories of good teachers.”
  • It was found that the higher the severity of ADHD symptoms, the lower the self-efficacy. Not only did ADHD symptoms predict more negative memories of teachers but they also predicted less positive memories.
  • Both family support and positive memories of the ‘good’ teacher predicted support from friends and eventually self-efficacy. Memories of interactions with teachers may influence one’s self-efficacy and perceived social support long after graduating from school.


Firstly, this is a correlational research study, so there are concerns about causality among the research variables. In addition, the students’ memories of teachers may not be accurate; their perceptions may also be subjective. Finally, there are significantly fewer male participants from one geographical location; therefore, a more balanced gender proportion of international samples may enable more generalization of the results.

Summarized Article:

Schmidt-Barad, T., Asheri, S., & Margalit, M. (2021). Memories and self-efficacy among adults with attention deficit disorder symptoms. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 1-15.

Summary by: Michael Ho—Michael supports the MARIO Framework because it empowers learners to take full control of their personalized learning journey, ensuring an impactful and meaningful experience.

Academic researcher Dr. Malka Margalit participated in the final version of this summary. 

Additional References:

  1. Rogers, D. C., A. J. Dittner, K. A. Rimes, and T. Chalder. (2017). “Fatigue in an Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Population: A Trans-diagnostic Approach.” British Journal of Clinical Psychology 56 (1): 33–52. doi:10.1111/bjc.12119.
  2. Brinkworth, M. E., J. McIntyre, A. D. Juraschek, and H. Gehlbach. (2018). “Teacher-student Relationships: The Positives and Negatives of Assessing Both Perspectives.” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 55: 24–38. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2017.09.002.
  3. Babinski, D. E., J. R. Mazzant, B. M. Merrill, D. A. Waschbusch, M. H. Sibley, E. M. Gnagy, B. S. G. Molina, and W. E. Pelham Jr. (2020). “Lifetime Caregiver Strain among Mothers of Adolescents and Young Adults with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder.” Journal of Family Psychology 34 (3): 342–352. doi:10.1037/fam0000609. 

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

Tiered prevention models to promote student learning outcomes have been evidenced to support educator well-being with teachers demonstrating self-efficacy and reduced levels of burnout relative to national norms. This suggests that the implementation of tiered systems could facilitate greater teacher efficacy and well-being as they feel more capable of meeting the educational needs of a diverse range of learners. —Ayla Reau 

Three-Tiered Models 

Many schools have adopted tiered systems like Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Response to Intervention (RTI), Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF), and Comprehensive, Integrated, Three-tiered models (Ci3T). “These models offer a school-wide structure to provide educators with clarity of roles, prioritize evidence-based practices to promote all students’ learning, use data to proactively identify students who exhibit additional needs, and inform targeted interventions to address identified needs.” 

Past research suggested that the use of tiered systems at the elementary level could lead to an increase in “educators’ commitment to students and positive feelings toward colleagues.” Lane et al. wanted to extend this line of inquiry and examine educators’ well-being (efficacy and burnout) after two years of implementation of a Ci3T model in secondary schools. 

Comprehensive, Integrated, Three-Tiered Model

As with many three-tier models, Tier 1 in a Ci3T model encompasses all students and meets most student needs. Tier 2 supports are additive and provide support for 10% – 15% of students, while Tier 3 supports are intended for the 3% – 5% of students with the most intensive educational needs. The Ci3T model “relies on the use of evidence-based programs, practices, and interventions to meet students’ needs” and uses “data [from multiple sources] to inform instructional decisions and target professional learning opportunities.” It also is unique in how it addresses academic, behavioral, and social and emotional well-being in one model. 

Efficacy and Burnout

According to the authors, two other important terms to define are efficacy and burnout. 

  • Sense of efficacy relates to the “degree to which teachers feel confident in their ability to navigate effectively their environment to teach, engage, and manage student behavior.”
  • Burnout happens when “individuals’ abilities to cope with work-related stressors are overwhelmed, leading them to experience one or more of the three core constructs of burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (i.e., cynical and emotionally withdrawn), and a lack of personal accomplishment.”


The results mirrored previous findings from the primary level educators. Reports from middle and high school teachers showed comparable emotional exhaustion levels with the national norm. However, they “reported substantially lower levels of depersonalization and higher levels of personal accomplishment.” With regard to the participants’ sense of efficacy, the authors found that “self-efficacy related to student engagement was below the national sample, but self-efficacy related to classroom management was above the national average.” Participant educators also reported higher levels of efficacy related to instructional strategies. 

Tiered systems such as Ci3T can offer educators pathways for data-informed decision-making at the student and educator level in order to connect students to relevant higher-tiered supports. “Tiered systems can [also] assist educators by offering clearly defined roles, school-wide policies and procedures, and a collaborative structure for general and special educators to collectively support students’ learning and well-being as well as educators’ well-being.” 

While the results are in favor of tiered system implementation in schools, the results featured in this study should be cautiously interpreted. Data from the study were confined to only one geographical locale and only one phase of Ci3T implementation (end of the second year of implementation). 

Summarized Article:

Lane, K. L., Oakes, W. P., Royer, D. J., Menzies, H. M., Brunsting, N. C., Buckman, M. M., Common, E. A., Lane, N. A., Schatschneider, C., & Lane, K. S. (2021). Secondary Teachers’ Self-Efficacy During Initial Implementation of Comprehensive, Integrated, Three-Tiered Models. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 23(4), 232–244.

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.

Researchers Wendy Oakes, Kathleen Lane, and Nelson Brunsting were involved in the final version of this summary. 

Key Takeaway

Research suggests that teacher reprimands do not decrease students’ future disruptive behavior or increase their engagement levels. Instead, teachers should focus on proactive classroom management strategies, such as explicitly teaching classroom expectations, using behavior-specific praise, and reinforcing positive behavior as a way to encourage desired behavioral outcomes in the classroom. —Jay Lingo 

Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD)

“Many teachers resort to using reprimands in attempts to stop disruptive student behavior,” particularly amongst those students with emotional or behavioral challenges. 

Students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) may experience many challenges in school and often present commonly identified characteristics including aggression, attention and academic problems, antisocial behavior, low classroom engagement, high rates of disruptive behaviors, and mental health challenges. 

“The ways in which teachers and students interact can affect outcomes for students with EBD. There can be positive outcomes if the teacher–student interactions are positive and teachers have been able to increase the on-task behavior, or engagement, and decrease disruptions of students in their classrooms.” 

While teacher reprimands may suppress misbehavior momentarily, they do not appear to be effective in decreasing students’ disruptive behavior or increasing their engagement over time. Limitations and implications are also discussed. 

Reprimands: How Effective Are They?

Caldarella et al.’s study emphasizes that the “ways in which teachers and students interact can affect outcomes for students with EBD. Teachers who deliver low rates of negative feedback (e.g., reprimands) and high rates of positive feedback (e.g., praise) may be particularly effective with students with EBD when providing multiple teaching and learning opportunities that enhance students’ engagement.”

Furthermore, reprimands have been linked to escape-motivated behaviors, aggression, and further disruptive behavior. The use of reprimands for students with or at risk for EBD can be especially problematic, given the specific challenges faced by these students. The current study found that teacher reprimands did not appear to decrease future disruptive behavior or increase future engagement for students at risk for EBD, or vice versa. 

The results of the study show that although they may temporarily suppress misbehavior they do not result in long-term positive behavior change. This might be because reprimands do not directly teach students the skills needed to improve their behavior, and thus, students may continue to exhibit negative behavior and continue receiving reprimands. Another problem is that reprimands are reactive: a student acts disruptively and a teacher reprimands the student. 

The Alternative to Reprimands

Instead, the focus should be on effective teaching techniques and proactive behavior management strategies to decrease disruptions and increase engagement.

“Reprimands are meant to stop misbehavior. However, in the current study, teacher reprimands did not appear to help decrease future classroom disruptions or increase future engagement of students at risk for EBD.” This should not be surprising, as harsh reprimands in schools have been associated with negative side effects such as anger, fear, escape, and avoidance rather than improved student behavior. In addition to being harmful to teachers and their students, reprimands prove less effective than positive classroom behavior management strategies. “Teachers who use reprimands also report higher levels of emotional exhaustion than their peers who do not.” 

Given the findings of the current study, along with those of previous researchers, it is recommended that teachers replace reprimands with proactive classroom management strategies, such as clearly teaching classroom expectations, reinforcing positive student behavior, and using behavior-specific praise, as primary responses to student misbehavior and disengagement.

Summarized Article:

Caldarella, P., Larsen, R., Williams, L.,  Wills, H., & Wehby, J. (2020). “Stop Doing That!”: Effects of Teacher Reprimands on Student Disruptive Behavior and Engagement. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, Vol. 23 (2). DOI:  10.1177/1098300720935101.

Summary by: Jerome Lingo— Jerome believes the MARIO Framework is providing structure and common meaning to learning support programs across the globe. Backed up with current research on the best practices in inclusion and general education, we can reimagine education…together.

Key Takeaway: This study suggested that inclusion requires more collaborative learning environments and student-centred pedagogy. The authors also highlighted the importance of acknowledging a child’s individual strengths because “when the students’ individual needs were not recognised, it shaped their perceptions of themselves as students.”—Frankie Garbutt

In this qualitative study, Vetoniemi and Kärnä (School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Eastern Finland) investigated the social participation of students with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools. They claim “in order to achieve a thorough understanding of how inclusive education policies affect SEN pupils’ everyday lives at school, we need to listen to their experiences of inclusive schools.” The empirical data of this article are based upon narratives of pupils with learning and physical disabilities. 

Social participation “is the right to full and fair access to activities, social roles and relationships alongside non-disabled citizens” resulting in the “interaction between the individual and the environment.” The study outlines the rationale behind the methodology: “the study was based on the idea of narrating as a way for human beings to make meaning of themselves and the world (Bruner, 1986),1 narrative inquiry provided a means to gain an authentic in-depth understanding of SEN pupils’ experiences of social participation in inclusive settings.” 

The participants in this study were 13-to-15-year-olds with physical and learning disabilities who were able to articulate their narratives in the form of interviews. In these interviews, participants were encouraged to speak freely about their experiences. 

The author’s findings from these discussions mirrored previous findings that claim “being physically integrated in a school does not ensure full participation.” SEN students often described negative experiences and emotions related to school due to lack of support or other barriers, yet their strengths (hobbies, interests, motivation) allowed them to feel a sense of belonging and competence as well as empowerment.

From their data, the authors inferred that schools ought to pay closer attention to students’ narratives, acknowledging and playing to students’ strengths as well as negotiating how barriers can be overcome. This would effectively put inclusion policies into practice in mainstream schools in Finland, if not in all classrooms globally.

They concluded that “ultimately, inclusion takes place inside classrooms, and teachers hold the key to building up a socially rich and inclusive environment in their classrooms. The results indicate that there is a need for in-service training and efficient cooperation between all teachers.” 

Summarized Article:Vetoniemi, J., & Kärnä, E. (2021). Being included–experiences of social participation of pupils with special education needs in mainstream schools. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 25(10), 1190-1204.

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

Additional References:

  1. Bruner, J. S. 1986. Actual Minds, Possible Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Key Takeaway: In today’s globalized world, it is imperative that all students are able to use their unique voices and actively participate in conversations. In order to foster meaningful participation in the classroom, educators need to develop strong and trusting relationships with their students. Challenging the notion of what it means to be inclusive provides educators with the opportunity to re-imagine modern education by prioritizing relationships and placing human values at the center of the teaching and learning experience. —Taryn McBrayne

“It is essential to place the relationship between the teacher and the student at the core of teaching,” says Ann-Louise Ljungblad (Department of Education and Special Education at University of Gothenburg). Ljungblad shares her study on the theoretical perspective, Pedagogical Relational Teachership (PeRT), to promote trustful teacher-student relationships as a foundation for student participation and inclusion. The author, in conjunction with Biesta (2007),1 proposes that a new type of inclusion, known as “the incalculable,” be introduced into classrooms. 

As the article explains, this form of inclusion emphasizes student “subjectification” (Biesta, 2009)2 by considering “if, when and how students are given opportunities to participate in education and emerge with their own unique voices,” which Ljungblad (2016)3 believes is one of education’s main purposes. 

According to Ljungblad, the PeRT theory provides a third way for students to access knowledge, in addition to traditional individualist and collectivist approaches, whereby the relationship between teacher and student is leveraged. Relational pedagogy, the main component of the PeRT perspective, values relationships, and Ljungblad believes that “learning and knowledge can be seen as a result of relationships.” More specifically, the author explains that it is the relationship between students and their teachers that significantly impacts learning in what is referred to as the “in-between space.”3 Here, Ljungblad explains that, “since meanings are shared and located ‘in-between,’ we have to embrace this gap, and PeRT is a theoretical inclusive perspective that highlights this essential space.” 

To showcase the role of student-teacher relationships in increasing student participation, the author references a self-conducted, micro-ethnographic study in 2016 which surveyed one hundred children ranging in age and physical and intellectual ability.3 The results of this study suggest that “the teachers’ pedagogical tactfulness created space for the students’ unique voices to emerge.” Put simply, the manner in which teachers interacted with their students, namely a “listening and empathetic pedagogical stance,” positively influenced their levels of participation. 

The author outlines three dimensions of the PeRT model in the article: 

Dimension 1 – According to Ljungblad, “PeRT emphasizes a positive rights 

claim for teachers to actively support students,” meaning that acting based on what is in the best interest of the child and what allows them to achieve their potential serves as a way to encourage participation. These “positive rights” stem from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of a Child (CRC) and the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education. 

Dimension 2 – Inspired by Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory model, the PeRT model is multidimensional and “shows how different aspects of relational teachership are closely intertwined, from a micro-level to a macro-level.” Through adopting this model, teachers are challenged to change their teaching practices in order to relate to their students and to embrace student collaboration to best meet their needs. 

Dimension 3 – Shifting from Vygotsky’s Didactic Triangle, the PeRT inspired Relational and Didactic Star emphasizes the importance of relational adaptations in the classroom environment to encourage participation. Although a traditional triangle model “emphasises the purpose, content and methods [of teaching],” Ljunglad suggests that it does not “illuminate the people who participate in the teaching community.” Ljungblad argues that PeRT combines the two pedagogical approaches (didactic and relational), therefore creating potential for “double-meaning making” to occur for students. As the author shares, “these two facets of meaning-making are important when teachers develop relational and didactic adaptations to create accessibility to the content.” 

Ultimately, more studies are needed to further understand the complexities of relational values in inclusive education. However, PeRT is “an invitation to scholars and practitioners to use the multi-relational model as creative

inspiration to seek new knowledge and understanding about participation, accessibility and equity.” It is through positioning the teacher-student relationship at the heart of teaching that all students’ voices can be heard. 

Summarized Article:

Ljungblad, A.L. (2021). Pedagogical Relational Teachership (PeRT) – a multi-relational perspective, International Journal of Inclusive Education, Vol. 25 (7), 860-876.

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. Biesta, G. (2007). “Don’t Count Me in. Democracy, Education and the Question of Inclusion.” Nordic Studies in Education, Vol. 27 (1), 18–29. 
  2. Biesta, G. (2009). “Good Education in an Age of Measurement. On the Need to Reconnect with the Question of Purpose in Education.” Educational Assessment, Evaluation & Accountability, Vol. 21(1), 33–46. 
  3. Ljungblad, A.L. (2016). Takt och hållning – en relationell studie om det oberäkneliga i matematikundervisningen [Tact and Stance – A Relational Study About the Incalculable in Mathematics Teaching]. PhD diss., Gothenburg Studies in Educational Sciences, 381. Gothenburg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis.

Additional Reading: