It’s incredibly valuable to do a quick check-in with students on their emotional state at least once a day. This can take many forms: a series of faces depicting different emotions that young children point to, a chart in the classroom based on students’ “temperature,” holding up fingers from one to ten.
Getting even a quick sense of students' emotional state can help both educators and kids SO MUCH:
—It helps children develop self-awareness; reflecting even for a moment on how they’re feeling and labeling it in some simple way it is a big, healthy step toward self-regulation. Kids (um, grownups too) are often not really aware of how they’re feeling until they stop and think about it!
—If a normally happy-go-lucky student is all of a sudden saying she’s a 1 each morning instead of an 8 or 9, you know to take the time to have a private conversation to see what’s going on.
—If the check-ins are done openly (and this may or may not be the right thing for your group), the class can develop an understanding of the range of emotions some of their peers are dealing with, and begin to build valuable empathy and community.
—It also helps the students who fly under the radar—the ones who might typically hold their emotions inside—let you know something’s going on.
At the beginning of each Rockin’ Yoga assembly, I ask the kids to give me an idea of how their day is going with a simple thumbs up, thumbs down, or in the middle. It might seem like it won’t make much of a difference, with 300 kids in front of me, but it actually gives me a good sense of where they are and what they might need.
And I know they’re glad to have been asked.
There are lots of great ideas in the books Cooling Down Your Classroom and the Everyday SEL series, both by Carla Tantillo Philibert, as well as many more books and resources online, and a useful article here.
If you’re using check-ins, or are inspired to start, please get in touch and let me know how it’s going!