Teacher Introduces Mental Health Board To Help Students Talk About Their Feelings
This article discusses the theme of suicide which some readers may find distressing.
After going through the harrowing experience of having several of her students attempt suicide in just five years, English special education teacher, Erin Castillo decided it was time to act and stop feeling so helpless.
View this post on InstagramMade 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. ••• :heart_decoration:UPDATE: just added a printable version with detail instructions so you can do this in your classroom! It's FREE!:heart_decoration: • • • #mentalhealthawareness #highschoolteacher #secondaryela #teacherorganization #teachings #anchorcharts #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers #teachersfollowingteachers #iteachtoo #teachertips #weareteachers #teacherspayteachers #teacherideas #teachingideas #specialeducationteacher #teacherlove #teach #weteachsped #teacher #iteachhighschool #elateacher #teachergoals #igteacher #igteachers #teachersofig
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The teacher from the San Francisco Bay Area, US, introduced a mental health check in board in her classroom.
This is how it works: students pick up a post-it, write their name on the back and place it where they like on the sheet depending on how they feel.
There are six mood categories from 'great' to 'in a really dark place' and they can also use the board to ask for a 'check in' if they need it (without having to say it out loud).
View this post on InstagramPOETRY MADNESS! ••• My sophomores are loving this activity from @readitwriteitlearnit! My students study and write a lot of poetry as freshmen, but sophomore year there isn't a ton that gets covered, so we are all excited to analyze a variety of poetry! ••• Do you study poetry?! What's your favorite poem? • • • #highschoolteacher #secondaryela #spedteacher #teacherinspiration #teacherlife:apple: #elateacher #iteachwriting #iteachela #iteachhighschool #poetry #teachersfollowteachers #teacherspayteachers #teacherlove
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Erin's aim was to help students realise that they're not alone in their feelings - whatever they are.
She told Insider: "So many people think they're the only ones struggling. Kids need to hear that they're not alone and what that support looks like."
After it proved a success with her own students, Erin shared the concept with the teacher community and uploaded a free downloadable copy on a platform called Teachers Pay Teachers.
The digital check-in sheet went viral with other teachers sharing it on social media after they did the same for their own classes.
View this post on InstagramAfter one if my staff memebers showed me @jsscytn post of doing this in her classroom, I fell in love with idea.... so I decided to do it in mine. Some of my students are going to need it to be differentiated for their understanding so I will help those kiddos. For those who have staff like nurses, aides, paraprofessionals it's great tool to see how staff are feeling. Staff and students decorated their own strip and I can't to see how it will go on Monday when we use it for the first time :hearts: #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers #thesped #thespedlife #teacherlife #sped #spedteacher #teachersofig #firstyearteacher #autism #autismawareness #autismrocks #autisticteacher #autistickidsrock #autismclassroom #awesomelyautistic #autismadvocate #autismadventures #teachlove #teachacceptance #teachlovenothate
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Soon afterwards a Facebook page called Suicide Awareness / Prevention, which has almost 600,000 followers, posted about it on their wall.
The post was shared more than 169,000 times and more than 16,000 people commented (at the time of writing).
More teachers have now adapted the technique with one suggesting it might be useful to have this same type of board in a staff room to give teachers a chance to emotionally unload too.
Erin felt very emotional after seeing her board go viral. She spoke exclusively to Pretty52 to say: "I felt overwhelmed. I imagined only a few teachers would see it and replicate it for their classes, I never imagined it would be used in multiple countries.
"I've received so many beautiful compliments about the poster and the support that has been provided because of it. I've found myself crying multiple times just thinking about the kids that are being truly seen for what could be the first time.
View this post on InstagramOur daily check-in is up and ready to go! Shoutout to @makingastatementinsped and @jsscytn for the great idea of how to help my students even more each and every day :heart: #mindfulness #howyoudoin #happyclassrooms #dudeswhoteach #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram #iteach4th #checkin #behappy
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"The picture I posted was the first time I ever tried it. I had some talking points thought out, but I knew my class was ready to go deep with their emotions. They surpassed every expectation I had. My students were checking on each other and showing support. I've partnered with other mental health support staff to make sure all my struggling students are seen."
Anyone struggling with their own mental health, or just in need of someone to talk to, should contact Samaritans on 116 123.
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/makingastatementinsped