Teacher Puts Mental Health First, Does Daily ‘Emotion Check-Ins’ With Her Students

Mrs. Wagenleitner is a transitional kindergarten teacher in California. Transitional kindergarten serves as a bridge between preschool and kindergarten and incorporates a little of both into the class, mostly to get the students prepared for kindergarten.

The grade consists of four-year-olds who all must turn five by a certain date in order to be eligible to be in the class.

Photo: YouTube/Good Morning America

While learning is very important, another thing that Wagenleitner finds to be extremely vital in her class is helping her students navigate their emotions.

In order to do this, she uses a “emotion check-in,” where students privately share how they are feeling.

She shows four different emotions on the board: Happy, Sad, Calm, Mad, and has hand signals that go with each one. For example, the happy is a pointer finger to the sky and the sad is a peace sign, while the calm is a thumbs up and the mad is a thumbs down.

Photo: YouTube/Good Morning America

She gives all of her students a few minutes to look at the board, tells them to take a deep breath, and think about which emotion they are feeling that day. Then she tells them all to close their eyes and give her the hand signal of the emotion they chose.

After that, she has the kids fill in the blanks: “I feel __ because __.”

Photo: YouTube/Good Morning America

This is a great way to make sure that the kids are doing ok, since they oftentimes bottle up their feelings.

Just because someone seems happy, doesn’t mean they are. And teachers don’t always know what’s going on in a kid’s home life, so this is a fantastic way to check in with them, while teaching them how to share and talk about their emotions.

Watch the teacher’s exercise in the video below:

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