This year I have decided to take part in the Slice of Life Story Challenge. The basic gist of the challenge is to write about life for 10 minutes a day. Since my Sundays are usually pretty busy, I decide to use a classroom connection activity that I am fond of-Classroom Check-In.
A few weeks ago, I heard a speech that challenged listeners to find one word that could be used to describe the item of your reflection. I have used this process to reflect upon many different things (lessons, our school, family time, a new experience, an exercise session, etc.) over the years. Generally, a single word comes to mind rather quickly. For example, I would describe my trip to the book store today as “productive” or “fulfilling”. I could also say the trip was “expensive”.
Check-In in the Classroom comes from the same idea-using one word or a quick sentence to describe something. The purpose of check-in is simple: To take a few moments at the beginning of class to give students a chance to be present together. This activity also provides students a chance to share their feelings, excitement, frustration, book they read, etc. with their peers and teacher in a very short period of time. As a teacher I paid specific attention to check-in, as the words or statements my students shared provided information for future classroom connections.
How does Check-In work? I usually have students meet at a community area in the room and begin class with Check-In. Students may share or simply say pass if they would rather not participate. I usually begin by stating the Check-In question and then stating my response, modeling the process with a “think aloud” added to my one word or statement. Check-In should be an absolutely safe process, so feel free to model something like, “I woke up late today so I was frazzled when I arrived at school.” Remember, the key idea is to begin class with a shared experience that establishes classroom community from the opening bell.
Try Check-In for a few weeks and I believe your class will be transformed. Students will be connected with you and with each other, allowing for heightened connections to learning and open pathways for collaboration. Most importantly, you will be working to build a classroom community that will be a model for respect and rapport-two key ingredients in terms of student engagement and success.