When students and teachers walk into the classroom, backpacks and textbooks aren’t the only baggage they bring with them. Everyone enters the room in a different mental, emotional, and physical state, which often affects their readiness to learn. In our Tools for Peace classes and clubs, the Check-In Worksheets have been a real game-changer. It’s the first thing we do together after welcoming each student into the classroom.
Mirroring the Check-In of the Stop Breathe & Think App, students answer the question “How are you?” on the worksheets, guiding them to slow down and turn their attention inward to reflect on what they are experiencing mentally, physically and emotionally in that moment.
Last week we asked our lead facilitator Mayme Donsker about her experiences using the Check-In Worksheet with her students. She found that “in the past, if someone was disengaged or even acting out, it could take me an entire class period to figure out what was going on and come up with a strategy to work with it. Checking in and sharing at the beginning of class allows me to immediately hear directly from the students how they are doing, and with that information I can adjust my teaching style or lesson plan to meet them where they are.”
Students keep track of their mental, physical, and emotional state, like a journal, and as the semester goes on it opens up discussions about how those things are constantly changing and moving. Mayme found this process had a positive impact on her class:
“We hear each other’s struggles and joys, and that sense of common humanity naturally creates a supportive classroom culture and a shared vocabulary for talking through challenges.”
We’ve also found that in the middle of a dense lesson, the Check-In Worksheet can be used to overcome mental blocks like “I’m just bad at this” or “I’m not a math person.” Guiding students to identify frustration or confusion as a passing feeling instead of shutting down, can help relieve pressure and provide a few moments to allow the mind to settle and refresh before looking for another strategy to approach the issue. Students identify less with the obstacles and more with being curious, open, and present.
Want to try the Check-In Worksheet with your students? Download the free “Stop, Breathe & Think: Mindfulness Activities for the Classroom” PDF HERE.