Teaching Tuesday: Learning Surplus and the Social-Emotional Needs of Students

By Tracy Vasquez, Emily Farkas, Dusty Sanchez and Marjaneh Gilpatrick, faculty

young students taking test in classroom

This last year was indeed a challenging year, as educators were challenged to think outside the box to make sure their students were making both academic and social gains. Due to a variety of challenges, some may view the past year as one where learning loss occurred. We would like to encourage you to think about perceiving this with a different lens, one where we view what skills, talents and abilities students gained with gratitude and appreciation.

You can have a growth and innovative mindset to approach the next school year. You can also support the gains your students have made through a diverse approach that includes strengthening their perseverance and resilience through challenging times.


It is easy to focus on the problems that have come our way during the past year but turning to a growth mindset provides a positive mindset. Pausing to cognitively reframe your thinking can greatly impact not only your own social and emotional well-being, but also the well-being of. Consider the situation we are facing in the world.

Many may see only the negatives such as school closures, schools moving instruction online and the necessity of remaining at home as much as possible. What if we paused for a moment to consider the good in these difficult times with cognitive reframing? In doing so, we can realize that we help solve problems by working hard and learning from others to design solutions.


We can cognitively reframe our thinking to consider the extra time we have to spend with our children, spouses and families at home. We have the ability to demonstrate our resilience as a model to our students, helping our fellow colleagues with the transition of conducting instruction online and taking the extra time for self-reflection and mediation. For example, we can help others stay motivated by learning new skills and trying new activities that they may not have experienced previously, expanding our perspectives.

Promoting Students’ Social and Emotional Well-being

There are some measures you can take to encourage these traits by promoting students’ social and emotional well-being. Small things such as posting positive messages in the classroom, greeting students at the door, giving periodic good kudos to students and including humor all improve students’ perception of the learning environment. There are bigger things we can do to affect great change for our students to build their self-regulation skills, peer relationships, self-efficacy and decision-making.

Getting to know your students as people and building a classroom culture of no judgment, strong respect for each other and a feeling of safety to be vulnerable and share thoughts and opinions takes time. Daily reflection is important. Refer to last week’s Teaching Tuesday blog post for even more on the Learning Surplus.

Want more? Check out all of the articles from Teaching Tuesday and return each week for a new post. To learn more about the College of Education and our degree programs, join in our efforts to elevate the education profession.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.