Van Duyn Elementary teacher uses self check-in system to address mental health needs

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — For young students just starting off the school year, there can be a lot of fear, anxiety, and stress. That’s why a Syracuse teacher came up with a check-in system to make sure her students are mentally and emotionally whole.

Every day at the beginning of class, students in Jessica McChesney’s second grade class do a “self check-in” which is attached to the chalkboard in the front of the classroom.

“I call it my mental health check-in. It is on my board, it says how are you doing today and it allows the students to tell me how they are feeling that day,” McChesney said.

Each student takes a stick that has their name on it and puts it into one of four boxes that describe how they are feeling that day. Each box has one of the following labels: I’m struggling, I’d like to talk, I’m good and I’m great.

“They love the check-in. They are extremely truthful with how they are feeling. They come in and that’s the first thing they will do,” McChesney said.

If a student says they aren’t doing so well, McChesney pulls them aside for a chat.

“I don’t know what they are coming from, they could have had a rough morning and something could have happened at home or on the bus. Maybe they didn’t get breakfast. So it’s really important for me to check-in and make sure they are starting the day off good,” McChesney said.

Each option gives her students a chance to navigate emotions they might otherwise not recognize, helping them successfully make it through the day.

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