Having a daily check in for students has been the sleeper win for my classroom this year.
Who would’ve thought that a routine I established by chance would have more impact than some of the thoughtfully-planned lessons I created.
Not this girl.
I mean, it’s a Google Form, not a magic pill, right?
The idea was simple…
Students would fill out a form at the beginning of class.
I would use this to verify attendance. Badaboom badabing.
It was simple, but it became so much more.
The Google Form Check In Routine
Let’s start with the anatomy of a successful check-in form.
- Welcoming Header
- Student Identifying Information (Name, Class Period)
- Warm-Up Question
- Invitation to Share
- Well-Being Self Assessment
- Opportunity to Explain
➡️ The headers are an overlooked opportunity to “brand” your classroom Google Forms. They help to establish the “vibe” of the form and communicate caring, professionalism, and consistency to students.
➡️ Student identifying information allows you to sort the Google Form in the spreadsheet by class period.
➡️ The warm-up questions allow you to get to know students. I discovered that having a range and variety of questions was best. In my forms, there is a different type of warm-up question for each day of the week, and these questions range from silly and random to serious and thoughtful.
➡️ Next, follow the warm-up question with an invitation to share. I found that wording the questions broadly as an opportunity to share what’s on students’ minds allowed them to share what was most helpful to them.
Some of my students used this spot on the form to ask questions they did not want to bring up during the whole-class meetings.
Others used this spot to share what was going on in their lives (or other classes), what they were excited about, etc.
➡️ The final component to the form is a series of two questions. There is a reason these reflection and well-being questions come at the end of the form. After the first few questions, students are warmed-up and ready to reflect.
I like to think of each Google Form daily check in for students as a digital conversation, an interaction I am purposefully creating with students much like I used to do when they entered my classroom before the bell and I greeted them at the door, etc.
The first of these questions is a Likert scale question. Students rate how they are doing on a scale from 1-4.
Then, in the next question, they have the opportunity to explain why they gave themselves this score. In isolation, the scale and response questions provide a snapshot of how a student perceives his/her wellbeing.
Over time, these questions can provide great insight into trends for struggling learners. I make it a point to keep a record (without telling students, of course) of days each student rates him or herself as a 1 or a 2 (struggling or really struggling). I use this data to determine when further support for a particular student may be needed.
Students have opened up to me via this form about family struggles, about breaking up with boyfriends, about having to sell their homes and move suddenly, about severe depression, and the list goes on. I’m so glad that they have a consistent place where they know I will ask them and where they know someone will read and care and respond.
The Secret Ingredient to the Daily Check In for Students
As I said before, I first became aware that these check-ins were important to students. I heard a student during class discussion make the comment that, “oh, my teacher last year didn’t even check what we wrote on these things” and I knew that I had to do more than use this daily check in for students as a way to verify attendance.
I started to respond each day. (It doesn’t take as much time as you might think.) I shared trends or chose a few responses from the warm-up question to highlight. I responded via email to each and every student who shared something specific or asked a question in the invitation to share. And I definitely made sure to let students know that I was thinking about them if they indicated they were struggling in some way that day.
After I became aware of the potential in this daily student check in, I became purposeful and took action to read and respond.
Technology became a conversation facilitator, not just another tool.
And once students saw that I was reading and responding to these check-ins…that’s when the magic started to happen.
It wasn’t a magic pill. It was simple magic. “Deep magic” as those in Narnia might say.
✨ The magic of caring and making sure to check in.
✨ The magic of asking simple questions and following up.
👉 Students just want to know that we care. They want to know that there is a safe space to open up if they need to do so.
And this may not happen right away. The key is being consistent and responsive.
Check Out My Google Forms
Because I saw such success with this routine, I knew that I had to make these forms available to other teachers. Maybe, just maybe we can all use technology to facilitate important connections with students.
And I truly believe that daily check in for students routine may be one of the most unexpected blessings in this pandemic.
I am making an individual connection with every. single. student. On a daily basis.
I’m not sure that I got to check-in that well with ALL of my 120+ students during a normal school year, so I will keep this routine for forever, even after we are back in-person.
I would encourage you to visit the link below to check out these forms for yourself. And even if you don’t purchase them, please start this routine in your own classroom. You’ll be glad you did!
Hey, if you loved this post, I want to be sure you’ve had the chance to grab a FREE copy of my guide to streamlined grading. I know how hard it is to do all the things as an English teacher, so I’m over the moon to be able to share with you some of my best strategies for reducing the grading overwhelm.
Click on the link above or the image below to get started!