This teacher's viral 'check-in' board is a beautiful example of mental health support.
Update: We have found the teacher who created the mental health check-in board! Kudos to Erin Castillo for the brilliant idea and for sharing how she's using it to help kids. She is offering a free download of the board as a poster along with instructions for utilizing it on Teachers Pay Teachers. Thanks, Erin!
This teacher is making a difference in her students' lives, one simple Post-it Note at a time.
Excellent teachers do so much more than teach. They can be mentors, role models, guides, and even confidants. Sometimes a teacher is one of the only trusted adults in a child's life—a fact that drives home the immense responsibility educators hold in their hands.
Perhaps that's why a photo shared by Facebook user Tara Mitchell Holman has touched so many people. It shows a teacher's whiteboard with "Monday Check-in" written on top and sections underneath labeled, "I'm great," "I'm okay," "I'm meh," "I'm struggling," "I'm having a tough time & wouldn't mind a check-in," and "I'm not doing great."
"Wow," wrote Holman in the caption. "This teacher has her students write their name on back of a sticky note and place it on the chart each Monday. She then talks privately throughout the week with each child about where they placed the sticky note and if they need to talk. A weekly check in on her students. ❤️❤️ Maybe we could pass this along to teachers."
The photo has been shared more than 135,000 times.
This kind of "check-in" is a beautiful example of supporting students' mental health.
Childhood can be hard. Being a teen can be even harder. That's nothing new, but studies have shown that mental health issues among young people are on the rise. Some of that may be due to the pressures of social media or the ubiquitous 24/7 news that stresses all of us. It could also simply be that we are getting better at understanding and diagnosing mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.
Whatever the reason, kids and teens can use all the mental and emotional support we can give them. Since young people spend the majority of their waking hours in school, teachers are in a prime position to offer that kind of support.
But figuring how to do that most effectively can be a challenge. Most teachers are already tapped out from their actual teaching work, and it's a lot to expect them to act as counselors on top of that. At the same time, people who work with students understand that so many issues can be remedied by staying in tune with their emotional well-being. This Post-it Note method of checking in with students is simple enough to help teachers determine which students might need some extra attention or help with their challenges outside the classroom.
This board is also a good reminder of how incredible teachers can be.
I started my professional life as a teacher and have known countless teachers in my lifetime. Few people I've encountered have been as dedicated and caring as the folks who educate kids, and their work always extends far outside of their classroom teaching hours. Teachers don't just impart knowledge; they are emotionally invested in their students and care about much more than just their academic performance.
I wasn't able to track down the identity of the teacher who made this check-in board, but perhaps the anonymity of it is fitting. So many teachers regularly go above-and-beyond the call of duty to care for their students, and this photo is a great reminder of how awesome educators find ways to help kids in every way they can.