HMH Support is here to help you get back to school right. Get started

Social and Emotional Learning

Strategies for Weekly and Daily SEL Check-Ins for Students

6 Min Read
Teacher talking to students in an elementary classroom

How well do you know your students? When they arrive in your classroom each day, can you get a sense of their mental health and emotional state? What would be helpful to know about their circumstances to meet their needs? 

You can never really know the answers to these questions without asking. Fortunately, with daily and weekly social-emotional check-ins for students, you can keep the lines of communication open, fostering the development of strong social-emotional learning (SEL) and strengthening the bond between all members of the learning community. 

4 Advantages of Social-Emotional Check-Ins

Thoughtfully-designed SEL check-ins for students can make a big difference in the classroom because these touchpoints give teachers valuable information about how students are doing and what kinds of support are needed to help the student succeed. 

Let’s explore some of the advantages of daily and weekly student check-ins.  

Fostering ongoing dialogue

Learning readiness is highly individual to each student’s circumstances and emotional state. As teachers, we work closely with our students every day, but just seeing them at school doesn’t give us all the information we need to meet their needs. We need to be asking the right questions and foster an ongoing conversation with them.

A student can begin their week in a strong state of learning readiness, but by the middle of the week, they arrive at school feeling discouraged and distracted. SEL daily check-ins provide teachers with important information that can reveal patterns in behavior that occur over time, as well as a means to track changes in students’ attitudes and circumstances on a daily or weekly basis. With this information, teachers can adjust and adapt to student needs. 

Weekly check-ins can be used to focus on the bigger picture. With daily check-ins providing the foundation for thinking and talking about emotions, teachers can use weekly check-ins to build community and nurture the development of healthy relationships among students and school staff. In addition, by consistently engaging in this ongoing dialogue, teachers gain invaluable insights into how to support the students in their classroom. 

Normalizing emotions

The way that you think and feel about your own emotions is based on your personal background and experiences. That means that your students also experience emotions based on their subjective experiences. For example, some children might be encouraged to talk about their feelings at home. Others could feel compelled to suppress or hide their emotions. These differences can be based on culture, family values, socioeconomic status, religion, and many other variables that may not be obvious to teachers. However, with daily check-ins, teachers can provide all students with a roadmap for evaluating, understanding, and expressing their emotions. 

Once students acquire a language for talking about their emotions, they can use this language to monitor and regulate their own emotional states. 

Building community

SEL skills such as empathy and respect can be learned and practiced in daily and morning check-ins. This strengthens the classroom community and helps to ensure that all students feel safe and supported at school. In addition, when teachers facilitate conversations about real-world experiences, students see a model for discussing challenges and opportunities for personal growth. 

These shared experiences foster feelings of empathy that strengthen the learning community, improving equity and setting students up for success. 

Identifying potential problems

Another way that daily social-emotional check-ins are beneficial is that these interactions offer teachers insights into interpersonal dynamics in the classroom. As a result, potential problems such as bullying, peer pressure, aggressiveness, non-compliance, or anti-social behavior can be identified and addressed before they become disciplinary issues. 

At the individual student level, daily check-ins also give teachers a way of evaluating their students’ social and emotional health so that potential issues such as depression, anxiety, and compulsive or impulsive behaviors can be noted so that further evaluations can be initiated.  

Building Great Daily and Weekly Social-Emotional Check-Ins

SEL check-in questions are more than just asking students how they are doing today. To make the most of the time you have with students during your daily and weekly check-ins, consider following these best practices:

Encourage the sharing of emotions

Your daily and weekly check-ins are a great opportunity to teach students how to think and talk about their emotions. Sharing emotions may not come naturally for all students, but these skills can be taught. In addition, by fostering trust and mutual respect between yourself and your students, you offer a safe space where their challenges and struggles can be shared and worked through. 

Reinforce strategies for self-regulation and stress management

When students participate in daily and weekly SEL check-ins, they get comfortable discussing their weaknesses and stressors with others. For teachers, this is an opportunity to facilitate discussions about coping strategies such as mindfulness, while also offering guidance as to how students can resolve conflict and ask for help.  

Foster inclusivity and diversity

Check-ins are a great time to celebrate the diversity in your classroom. As students learn more about each other and share their own cultural or familial traditions, they develop a greater sense of empathy and build bridges of understanding that transcend their differences. Fostering cultural sensitivity in your check-ins creates the conditions needed for an inclusive, supportive classroom that empowers all learners. 

Offer students choice

As you consider activities and prompts for future SEL check-ins, why not ask students to offer their suggestions? By including students in the process of planning activities and topics for discussion, you signal mutual trust and respect while empowering students to take ownership of their SEL skills development.

This article was adapted from a blog post initially developed by the education technology company Classcraft, which was acquired by HMH in 2023. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

***

Find more lesson plans and classroom resources on Shaped.

Related Reading