By: Matt Rhoads, Ed.D
Dr. Matt Rhoads is a Tech and Instructional Leader and Innovator with hands in Adult Ed, K-12, and Higher Education. He is the author of several books and is the host of Navigating Education – The Podcast.
Every day for live synchronous sessions, I want to check in with my students and see how they are feeling. Currently, in our present reality, students have many more stressors and anxieties about the world around them. Thus, by providing students opportunities to assess, identify, and share their feelings and emotions, it is an opportunity we can work with our students emotional intelligence as well as their ability to identify and manage their emotions.
One way I like to check in to have students to assess, identify, and share their feelings with the class is through Pear Deck. Pear Deck is an add-on to Google Slides, which allows your presentation slides to become interactive through various modalities (text, illustrations, polls, multiple choice questions, etc.). At the beginning on an in-person or synchronous online class session, I provide my students with either a social emotional pre-made Pear Deck slide or create my own. When I present the slide to my class, they will have an opportunity to respond either by responding to the poll or free response question. Then, I preface to my students (the first time we do this exercise) in class that all posts are anonymous to class except for when I review them after class. Additionally, I also tell my students by sharing how others are doing in our class it will show us how everyone is doing in the class as well as let student’s know we are in this together as a classroom community. Generally, once this is completed, I will model and answer the question first to build that human to human connection with your students. I try to be honest genuine, and authentic during this process.
Once I share my modeled and authentic response to the prompt or poll, I provided my students a specified time block to respond to the interactive slideshow. When they are responding, on the teacher interface of Pear Deck, I can see in real-time how my students are doing; each single one of them. This will provide me with some context before our lesson together even begins on how my students are feeling collectively as well as individually, which is a extremely powerful and useful information as a teacher to continue to build relationships with your students. After the class responds, I will share the anonymous poll results or the student generated free-responses to the class. I will read them aloud for the next few minutes. Then, I offer students to an opportunity to voice how they feel by giving them an opportunity to share out to the class. Sometimes a few students respond; other times, no one responds. It depends. Responses can range from being extremely positive to very sad and difficult circumstances. Although, I can guarantee these are quite powerful experiences.
Through these activities, it provides students an outlet to assess, identify, and share their feelings. Additionally, it provides teachers the opportunity to gauge how their class is doing collectively as well as how students are doing on an individual level. Teachers can use this information to determine how they can approach various students throughout the time you are with them that day or week. Furthermore, it also provides students an platform to share anonymously in a reflective manner or allows them to shed their anonymity and share to a forum of their peers.
To round up this discussion, social emotional check ins provide an opportunity for students to build empathy and community together in a classroom or online setting, which is powerful to see during the times we are in today. I recommend utilizing strategies like the ones presented here to build the emotional intelligence of students and cultivate a sense of community in your classroom regardless of your grade level (I’ve done this with university students as well). Ultimately, by making this a daily routine, it can create powerful experiences for your students as well as useful data to use as a teacher to make a difference in your students lives.