High school teacher praised for 'check-in chart' to help students' mental health

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A teacher in America is being praised for creating a ‘check-in board’ in her classroom to engage with her students and their mental health.

Erin Castillo, a teacher in California’s Bay Area came up with a way to get her teenagers talking about a difficult topic.

The English special education teacher borrowed the concept from preschool classrooms in the US, where students can choose how they want to be greeted based on symbols on the wall (some want hugs, others hi-fives or a verbal hello).

Castillo created a chart with different sections; one is called ‘I’m great’, whilst another says ‘I’m struggling’.

There are six moods her students can choose from to let her know how they’re feeling.

Students take a post-it note and write their name on the back, and place it where they feel there are, without their names being visible.

Speaking to Business Insider about her decision, Castillo said: "So many people think they're the only ones struggling.”

Kids need to hear that they're not alone and what that support looks like.

As a result of the chart, the teacher was able to begin 'check ins.' Writing about it on Instagram, she said:

I was able to start some check ins 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.

Castillo's innovative chart inspired other teachers to create their own

She also inspired a teacher called Jessie Cayton, whose chart was picked up on Facebook by a Suicide Awareness Prevention group. They shared her idea and encouraged schools to pick it up, too.

They wrote: “Wow. This teacher has her students write their name on the 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.

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