You hear teachers say all the time that they think of things spur of the moment or their best reflections and lesson ideas come while in the shower or driving in the car. It’s true! One morning I was sitting at the breakfast table thinking about how to integrate lessons about character and the social-emotional aspect into my lessons. This is when the comment a student made echoed in my head.
He asked, “Can we talk about our feelings again?”
I guess I was unintentionally checking in with their feelings before we started each lesson. I know that if children come in hungry, sad, nervous, tired… not much learning will happen. This is not much different with teenage children! They want to share their feelings of heartbreak, feeling sick, frustration, who they are crushing on (you would be surprised!), nervous about a test, how tired they are, and so much more. It made me think about what we had been doing. So like I try to do with everything, I asked them if they liked that. Overwhelmingly, the response was YES!
This is how the Emoji Check In was born in room 217.
It is nothing fancy, but they love it! They sign in the attendance folder and then check in, using an expo marker, with how they are feeling at that moment. While I pull up Skyward to log in and take the attendance we have a quick class discussion about how we are feeling.
They appreciate that I want to know if they are nervous or if they are not feeling well. I told them that if I know these things then I can have a better understanding why they are not acting like they normally do. I understand life is hard sometimes and I want to empathize, as well as celebrate when great things happen! The kids LOVE celebrating each other’s celebrations in life, school, or just fun things that happen. Not only does this model empathy, but it has built class community and trust amongst each other where each week more and more kids are comfortable sharing. I continue to ask them if we need to change things, but so far this is not one of those things! I have discovered they want to share all the happy, scary, and funny things that go on. Getting these off our chests before we begin learning has made a big difference in our classroom. They want to share. We just need to ask and listen.