I've often had the discussion with fellow educators regarding the effect a student's wellbeing has on their learning. I truly believe it has a massive impact! Definitely more than we teachers often realise.
I was lucky enough in 2013 to teach a group of Prep students that all reached the minimum benchmarks of where they were 'expected' to be by the end of the school year. I have to say - it was an awesome feeling seeing the huge changes in their results from the beginning to the end of the year, as it is every year. HOWEVER! I truly don't believe that it had much of anything to do with my teaching practices, the way I decorated my learning space or my spiffy looking work program among other things.
I honestly believe that it had EVERYTHING to do with the fact that I'm 100% sure every one of my (yes they're 'my' students and always will be ;) students came in each day knowing they were loved and in a safe place where it was okay to take risks and make mistakes. I think, by the end of the year, they were officially sick of me saying that "It's OK to make mistakes or not get something right as that shows me that you're learning!"
So my humble advice to any educator taking the time to read this is to make time to ensure each and every one of your students feels loved and valuable. Take the time to listen to their stories (even though sometimes your eyes may glaze over!) and jokes, celebrate their successes with them and learn about their likes, dislikes, family, etc so that you can engage in meaningful conversation with them.
I can guarantee you that even if they don't remember your name or anything much about their learning, they will remember how you made them feel...and isn't that the most important gift of all?