This Teacher’s Check-In Chart Allows Students To Share Their Feelings And It’s Going Viral

Feelings are important! In school, we learn everything we can about math, reading, grammar, science – all the fact-based stuff, but emotions and feelings are all too often left off the table.

Erin Castillo is an English special education teacher with a bright mind and big heart. She created a check-in chart where students can share their feelings. The chart provides a platform to discuss mental health through creative daily exercises.

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mrs. Castillo has known several students who tried to take their own lives over the last few years, and she wanted to do something to help change that.

Her innovative check-in chart gives her the perfect opportunity to check in on her students and see how they are feeling each day.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Many social media influencers and celebrities are speaking out about mental health in hopes of helping people realize they are not alone.

This is Erin Castillo who went viral for her mental health check-in chart

Erin Castillo @makingastatementinsped

And this is her awesome check-in chart (also, can we just talk about how dreamy her handwriting is?!)

Erin Castillo @makingastatementinsped

The rules are simple: grab a post-in and write your name on the back. From there, you can post your note wherever your feelings align that day.  The chart ranges from “I’m great” to “I’m in a really dark place.”

This creates a non-verbal and semi-anonymous system for students to share how they feel and get help when needed.

This chart is important in every classroom, but Erin felt it was particularly important in her classroom.

Studies have identified a correlation between individuals with learning disabilities and suicidal behavior.

Erin Castillo @makingastatementinsped

In an interview with Insider Mrs. Castillo explained: “So many people think they’re the only ones struggling, “and added, “Kids need to hear that they’re not alone and what that support looks like.”

She was inspired to create the mental check-in chart thanks to a teacher support page. She explained in further detail on her Instagram:

“Made this mental health check in chart after seeing @missjohnstonsjourney use a digital version for teachers on her #okayteacher Facebook page. 

I asked my students to write their names on the back of a post-it note so I could check in with ones in the bottom two sections. I explained the green section as them struggling, but speaking to another adult or trying to work through it themselves.

I was able to start some check ins today, and holy cow these kids. I love them. My heart hurts for them. High school is rough sometimes, but I was happy that a few were given a safe space to vent and work through some feelings.

I also like that students could visually see that they aren’t alone in their struggles. It was a beautiful minimum day focusing on self care and mental health.”

Erin Castillo @makingastatementinsped

The Facebook page Suicide Awareness / Prevention shared her post, and from there it went viral.

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Since then, many other teachers have created their own mental health check-in charts with great success:

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“If I’ve learned anything this year so far, it’s that life is much harder at 9-10 years old than I could ever possibly remember. So thankful for @makingastatementinsped and her brilliant ideas, looking forward to implementing this in the classroom tomorrow,” wrote one teacher.

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“It is SO important to have students become aware of their own mental health, and for teachers to create a classroom community where students feel safe to express their own feelings and realize they are not alone,” wrote another teacher who recreated a mental health check-in poster for her classroom.

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Mrs. Castillo has been overwhelmed with the response and action she has sparked amongst other educators. While she is incredibly grateful, she admits on Instagram also being a bit overwhelmed by all of the attention.

“I just started crying,” she said. When her husband asked her why she was crying, she said: “Because kids are being saved everywhere.”

She has since taken the time to create a free digital resource for fellow teachers who would like to create a check-in chart for their classroom.

“Changing my decor from academic based to mental health based was a big switch this year. I still have academic items around, but I wanted mental health,” she writes on Instagram.

Erin Castillo @makingastatementinsped

“My peer counseling class has continued to open my eyes to the mental health needs of students and I’m so thankful for the input they’ve given to create this safe space.”

Mrs. Castillo’s classroom is quite impressive – you can check it out on Instagram (@makingastatementinsped) where she shares all kinds of inspirational goodies.