Summer is almost here! But first, I want to plant a seed.

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Summer is almost here! But first, I want to plant a seed.

May 4, 2021 | Social-Emotional Learning, Teacher-Student Relationships

The arrival of May means we are nearing the end of our school year. Like myself, I’m hoping you are gearing up for some much-needed time to recharge and recenter.

It’s well understood that COVID-19 has taken its toll on our emotional and mental reserves. The many twists and turns of this school year have been exhausting and, likely, stunted the growth of many of our learners. While the window for academic growth is quickly closing as the school year ends, I would like to plant a seed. Before you wrap up the year, you have the opportunity to plan a small project that could make a massive impact on your students’ lives. 

Studies show that students’ positive perception of their relationship with their teachers and emotionally supportive classroom environments have a positive impact on learners’ conduct, motivation, engagement, and performance.(1-6) Additionally, research shows that targeted SEL interventions can have an 11% increase in academic achievement, in addition to boosting student behavior, mental health, and overall classroom climate.(7,8)  

These effects can last for as long as three years after the intervention.(7,9,10) 

With this level of sustained positive results and the possibility that some students are feeling isolated and disconnected, I suggest setting up a small initiative to engage with students over the summer. However, this does not mean neglecting your much-needed summer vacation. Connecting with your students, and showing them you care, could be as simple as an email and/or video message to your class midway through the summer that shares what you have learned during your vacation and encourages them to share with you (and the class) what they are learning. Alternatively, you could set up optional Zoom sessions (with parental permission) during a specified week to check-in and perhaps even encourage your learners to continue exploring and learning.

If you do set up one-to-one learning sessions with your students, try listening to your students more than you talk. Empower your learners to lead conversations and ask guiding questions to help them better share their experiences and plan for a fun and productive summer.

MARIO educators go above and beyond for their learners but protect their own health and wellbeing. A thoughtful video message that shows you care, or a quick Zoom call over the summer with each student might result in valuable gains for the next school year. Need another great reason to show your students you care? Well, it just might make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside!

Let’s be there for our learners this summer,

Philip Bowman



  1. Brackett, M. A., Reyes, M. R., Rivers, S. E., Elbertson, N. A., & Salovey, P. (2011). Classroom Emotional Climate, Teacher Affiliation, and Student Conduct. The Journal of Classroom Interaction, 46(1), 27–36.
  2. Battistich, V., Schaps, E., & Wilson, N. (2003). Effects of an Elementary School Intervention on Students’ “Connectedness” to School and Social Adjustment During Middle School. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 24(3), 243–262.
  3. Brock, L. L., Nishida, T. K., Chiong, C., Grimm, K. J., & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2008). Children’s perceptions of the classroom environment and social and academic performance: A longitudinal analysis of the contribution of the Responsive Classroom approach. Journal of School Psychology, 46(2), 129–149.
  4. Curby, T. W., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Ponitz, C. C. (2009). Teacher–child interactions and children’s achievement trajectories across kindergarten and first grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(4), 912–925.
  5. NICHD. (2006). The NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development: Findings for Children up to Age 4½ Years.
  6. Katja Košir, Gregor Socan, & Pečjak, S. (2007). The role of interpersonal relationships with peers and with teachers in students’ academic achievement. ResearchGate; unknown.
  7. Bailey, R., Stickle, L., Brion-Meisels, G., & Jones, S. M. (2019, January 21). Re-imagining social-emotional learning: Findings from a strategy-based approach.
  8. ‌Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432.
  9. SKLAD, M., DIEKSTRA, R., RITTER, M. D., BEN, J., & GRAVESTEIJN, C. (2012). Effectiveness of school-based universal social, emotional, and behavioral programs: Do they enhance students’ development in the area of skill, behavior, and adjustment? Psychology in the Schools, 49(9), 892–909.
  10., R. D., Oberle, E., Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects. Child Development, 88(4), 1156–1171.


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