This simple mental health check in when you greet students in the morning can make a big difference in your classroom

Greet Students Every Morning With This Mental Health Check-In

This simple way to greet students every morning also allows for a mental health check in

As a teacher, you care about your students.  You want what is best for them.  You want to greet them at the door every morning.  You want to assess their mental health and do what you can to support them.  You want to start the day off with a positive interaction with each of them.

This is not easy, though.  In my 3rd grade classroom, all 27 of my students would enter the classroom around the same time and want to talk to me. And I wanted to talk to them, too. But as amazing as we teachers are, it’s still impossible for us to hold a conversation with 27 people at once. And do all of the other stuff required in the mornings.

This is not a good way to start the day. Some students really NEED to talk to you – they are sad or angry or hungry, and talking about their problems is essential to helping them have a successful day.

Other students don’t necessarily need to talk to you, but telling them “I can’t talk to you right now” means those students start the day off with a negative interaction rather than a positive one.

Luckily, there is a quick way to greet all of your students, while at the same time doing a mental health check in.  A small, intentional change in your morning routine can make a big difference and help establish a culture of kindness in your classroom. 

The Simple Mental Health Check In

Here is the easy routine I established to assess their mental health every morning:

  1. As my students entered the classroom at the beginning of the day, I stood at the door to greet them.
  2. My students would then "show me with their fingers" how they were feeling.  1 finger meant that they were already having a TERRIBLE day, while 5 fingers meant that they were feeling fantastic.
  3. Next, my students would choose whether they wanted to give me a hug, handshake, high five, or simply say hello (for students that don't like touching).
  4. Finally, students would enter the classroom and begin the rest of their morning routine, which included one of these morning work ideas.  
This simple greeting makes a great mental health check in for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students

So simple, yet so effective. Adding this to the students' morning routine helped me make sure that every single student (except for the tardy ones) started off the day with a positive interaction with me – which helped make the rest of the day more successful.

The students that were feeling great got to share that with me - but I didn't have to talk to each of them.  This allowed me to spend the limited time I had talking to the students that really needed a little bit of extra attention.

If I had the time, I would try to talk to my students that showed me 1 or 2 fingers immediately, before they even entered the classroom.  If I didn’t have the time right then, I knew I needed to look for available opportunities throughout the morning to talk.

And as an added bonus, being able to identify how you're feeling is an important SEL skill.

TIP:  This only works if you have clear morning procedures and students know exactly what they are supposed to do after greeting you at the door.  Otherwise, you are bound to be interrupted constantly and this morning greeting will not be near as effective.

Use This Check In to "Greet Students" Throughout the School Day

This small greeting made such a big impact in my classroom that I started doing this at the next most emotional time of day as well - right after recess.

My class always took a bathroom break on our way back to the classroom, so I used the time while students were waiting in line to let each of them “show me with their fingers” how they were feeling and tell me about the inevitable injustices that happened during recess time.

My students loved knowing that they would have my undivided attention to tell me how they were feeling  – even though it was only for a few seconds. And what a difference that can make to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students !

Find more classroom procedures and routines to help your classroom run effectively here.

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