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Teacher’s Check-In Chart For Students To Share Their Feelings Goes Viral
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Social Issues3 years ago

Teacher’s Check-In Chart For Students To Share Their Feelings Goes Viral

More and more people are using whatever platform they have to speak out about mental health awareness, whether they are celebrities or people with a large Twitter following – this kind of visibility is important to people who have felt alone. English special education teacher Erin Castillo decided to use her classroom as her platform to educate and support her students about their mental health with a creative daily exercise.

After several students attempted suicide in the past five years of her teaching, the San Francisco Bay Area educator found an innovative way to check on her pupils – with a check-in chart.

Image credits: makingastatementinsped

Castillo wanted to create a non-verbal way for her students to communicate how they were feeling through a semi-anonymous system. On the chart, students are asked to indicate their mood that day with post-it notes on a scale from, “I’m great” and “I’m okay” to “I’m having a hard time and wouldn’t mind a check-in” or “I’m in a really dark place.” Studies have shown a correlation between people with learning disabilities or special needs kids and suicidal behavior, particularly among women, and as well as with other mental health issues or disabilities such as autism. The educator told Insider, “So many people think they’re the only ones feeling sad and struggling,” and added, “Kids need to hear that they’re not alone and what that support looks like.”

Image credits: Erin Castillo

The inspiration for the check-in chart came from a teacher support page, she wrote in her Instagram caption:

“Made this mental health check-in chart after seeing @missjohnstonsjourney use a digital version for teachers on her #okayteacher Facebook page.
I asked my students to write their names on the back of a post-it note so I could check in with ones in the bottom two sections. I explained the green section as them struggling, but speaking to another adult or trying to work through it themselves.
•••
I was able to start some mental health checks today, and holy cow these kids. I love them. My heart hurts for them. High school is rough sometimes, but I was happy that a few were given a safe space to vent and work through some feelings.
•••
I also like that students could visually see that they aren’t alone in their struggles. It was a beautiful minimum day focusing on self-care and mental health.”

Her post was shared on a Facebook page called Suicide Awareness/Prevention and spread across the internet

Image credits: SuicidePreventionAwarenes

Inspiring other teachers to create charts of their own

Image credits: milestonesandmishaps

After one of my staff members showed me @jsscytn post of doing this in her classroom, I fell in love with the idea…. so I decided to do it in mine. Some of my students are going to need it to be differentiated for their understanding so I will help those kiddos. For those who have staff like nurses, aides, paraprofessionals, it’s a great tool to see how staff are feeling. Staff and students decorated their own strip, and I can’t see how it will go on Monday when we use it for the first time

Image credits: enthusiasm_isourjam

Our daily check-in is up and ready to go! Shoutout to @makingastatementinsped and @jsscytn for the great idea of how to help my students, even more, each and every day

Image credits: missginfourth

If I’ve learned anything this year so far, it’s that life is much harder at 9-10 years old than I could ever possibly remember. So thankful for @makingastatementinsped and her brilliant ideas, looking forward to implementing this in the classroom tomorrow.

Image credits: ms_wayerski

Took a page out of @makingastatementinsped book and recreated her Mental Heath Check in poster 💭 ..It is SO important to have students become aware of their own mental health, and for teachers to create a classroom community where students feel safe to express their own feelings and realize they are not alone. Looking forward to conducting more check ins in the future! Also, Erin has a free download that includes set of instructions/posters to use in your own classroom, too- go snag those ASAP!

The response from other teachers was unexpected and overwhelming for Castillo, “I just started crying,” she said. “My husband asked me why I was crying, and I said ‘Because kids are being saved everywhere.” She has since created a free digital resource for other teachers who want to introduce the chart into their classrooms.

People in the comments loved the creative approach to mental health

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Monty Glue
Community Member
3 years ago

Great idea, but I hope the teachers don't become overwhelmed by their student struggles. Some medical professionals have a condition called "hyper responsibility". They agonize and grieve over patient conditions/problems/illness and death. I know such a doctor and he had to go into urgent care to avoid becoming too attached to his patients. When he began attending the funerals of some of his terminal patients he had to resign from the institution where he deeply cared for his disable panel of patients. It is awful to see a doctor weep over the loss of a patient, it was just too much of an emotional burden. The transactional nature of urgent care doesn't permit such attachments.

Panda Baller
Community Member
3 years ago

I feel like I have that too. I worry and worry about who I have helped at my job and if I am unable to help them since I am typically the last option. My boss when we have our weekly run downs always reminds me that we need to stay focused and not to become emotionally attached. She says I lose sleep over worry over someone I just spent an hour with trying to figure out how they will make ends meet next month. It hurts me inside when I tell someone bad news. My quarterly area of improvement is literally be blunt and not try and fix people's lives after our interaction.

Load More Replies...
Panda Baller
Community Member
3 years ago

I had a very unstable and terrible childhood growing up and one day I stayed home from school cause my mom gave me 2 black eyes. I think I was about in 3rd grade. Well anyways. When I went back to school one of the teacher caught me eating breakfast in the cafeteria and she leaned down and asked. "are you being hurt at home.?" Instantly I could hear my moms voice in my head telling me if I said anything i would mess it all up and my little brothers and sister would get taken away and it would be all my fault. As soon as clicked back into the conversation I burst out in tears. I don't know why I said what I said but in the midst of tears I said "I don't know." To this day I wish someone would have dug a little deeper. Maybe these methods will improve mentally struggling children feel safe and know its okay to talk about things. Teachers should really sense when things are off.

Night Owl
Community Member
3 years ago

I'm so sorry. I hope things are better for you and you are feeling better now.

Load More Replies...
Ben Churchill
Community Member
3 years ago

My thought on this is that it's great, but isn't it not quite anonymous if the students have to go up and put a post-it in front of their classmates? If your friends see you putting your post-it, maybe you'd not put it where it truly belongs? I wonder if there's a less anxiety-inducing version?

Daria B
Community Member
3 years ago

That's exactly how I feel about it too. It is truly a good initiative and I'm glad if it works. But trying to picture up such a thing done at my high school back when I was in, it would just make me avoid the whole thing.

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
Monty Glue
Community Member
3 years ago

Great idea, but I hope the teachers don't become overwhelmed by their student struggles. Some medical professionals have a condition called "hyper responsibility". They agonize and grieve over patient conditions/problems/illness and death. I know such a doctor and he had to go into urgent care to avoid becoming too attached to his patients. When he began attending the funerals of some of his terminal patients he had to resign from the institution where he deeply cared for his disable panel of patients. It is awful to see a doctor weep over the loss of a patient, it was just too much of an emotional burden. The transactional nature of urgent care doesn't permit such attachments.

Panda Baller
Community Member
3 years ago

I feel like I have that too. I worry and worry about who I have helped at my job and if I am unable to help them since I am typically the last option. My boss when we have our weekly run downs always reminds me that we need to stay focused and not to become emotionally attached. She says I lose sleep over worry over someone I just spent an hour with trying to figure out how they will make ends meet next month. It hurts me inside when I tell someone bad news. My quarterly area of improvement is literally be blunt and not try and fix people's lives after our interaction.

Load More Replies...
Panda Baller
Community Member
3 years ago

I had a very unstable and terrible childhood growing up and one day I stayed home from school cause my mom gave me 2 black eyes. I think I was about in 3rd grade. Well anyways. When I went back to school one of the teacher caught me eating breakfast in the cafeteria and she leaned down and asked. "are you being hurt at home.?" Instantly I could hear my moms voice in my head telling me if I said anything i would mess it all up and my little brothers and sister would get taken away and it would be all my fault. As soon as clicked back into the conversation I burst out in tears. I don't know why I said what I said but in the midst of tears I said "I don't know." To this day I wish someone would have dug a little deeper. Maybe these methods will improve mentally struggling children feel safe and know its okay to talk about things. Teachers should really sense when things are off.

Night Owl
Community Member
3 years ago

I'm so sorry. I hope things are better for you and you are feeling better now.

Load More Replies...
Ben Churchill
Community Member
3 years ago

My thought on this is that it's great, but isn't it not quite anonymous if the students have to go up and put a post-it in front of their classmates? If your friends see you putting your post-it, maybe you'd not put it where it truly belongs? I wonder if there's a less anxiety-inducing version?

Daria B
Community Member
3 years ago

That's exactly how I feel about it too. It is truly a good initiative and I'm glad if it works. But trying to picture up such a thing done at my high school back when I was in, it would just make me avoid the whole thing.

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
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