Teaching Tip Thursday: How Are You Feeling? Checking Students' Emotions at the Door

Teaching Tip Thursday: 
How Are You Feeling?  Checking Students' Emotions at the Door

We all know that our students come into our buildings and classrooms with various emotional backgrounds.

The student could be going through a rough time in their lives.  Maybe they didn't eat breakfast, had family issues at home, they might not feel well, or maybe they are just angry or sad.  

At this point, first thing in the morning, this student has already "checked out." If their needs/emotions aren't addressed, it's going to be a rough time getting that student back on task and engaged in learning.

 However, there are a couple strategies you can take to get these students back on track and check their emotions at the door.  

1.)  Meeting Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

There are countless ways these needs can be met.  Especially when you start at TIER One, meeting their physiological needs in the classroom.  Whenever I think of this TIER on the hierarchy of needs, I always think of the phrase my former principal, Michael Ogg, always told us on district half-days and holidays:

"Get em' in, Get em' fed, Get em' home."

The middle component of this phrase is one of the most effective ways of helping meet student needs.  Students need a healthy breakfast and a good lunch.  Providing students with snacks, water breaks, and creating a great room arrangement will greatly improve student emotions.

Writing this blog post reminded me of a fantastic blog post from Lori Desautels via Edutopia back in 2014.  Read this for more tips and strategies:

2.)  Allowing your students a way to communicate "how they are feeling."

Many students won't just walk into your room first thing in the morning and say, "I'm having a bad day."  Many are reluctant, shy, depressed, or inadequate at conveying emotion.

A great method (pictured above) that I've seen on social media comes from Wendy Turner (2017 Delaware Teacher of the Year.)  I've seen this shared from Todd Nesloney and Teacher2Teacher.  

Wendy uses these rubber bracelets to gauge how the students are feeling each day.   This is a great way for students to subtly address how they are feeling, and also a way for the teacher to address the students needs and emotions.

3.)  Informal class poll to see how the class is feeling

Finally, a great digital way to check how your students are feeling would be to use the polling function on the bottom right of the ClassroomScreen website

This website allows you to informally poll your students.  Integrates perfectly with digital whiteboards, touchscreen Chromebooks, or tablets.  Throw the question up on the board, and as your students are walking into the classroom, they can select a face that matches up to how they are feeling.  This also works great as an exit ticket after a lesson.  Again, you don't care which student selected which face, you are just getting simple results from a "whole class informal poll".

Read more about ClassroomScreen, HERE:

Lastly, even if you don't try any of the above strategies... Please, just be PRESENT!  Be there for your students.  Show that you care and that you listen.  Greet them at the door before they even walk one foot into your room.  A high-five, hug, or handshake go a very LONG way in building trust and a positive relationship with your students.

Also, positive phone calls home greatly improve your chances of making connections with your students.  Home visits, and attending their after-school events/sports help build those positive relationships too.  They will be able to open up emotionally when you show that you are invested in their lives.