How many times have you been having a REALLY bad day, but you couldn’t quite explain it to your coworkers/family/friends?
In our day-to-day lives, there’s not a lot of room for giving a real answer to “How are you?” But one group of teachers is trying to change all that, starting with their students.
Texas teacher Jessie Cayton recently went viral for her mental health “check-in” poster board, where students can explain how they’re feeling with a (private) sticky note. The options include “I’m great,” “I’m meh,” and “I’m struggling.”
The idea has exploded on social media, and for good reason.
The board may look simple, but it’s an exercise in vulnerability, connection, and self-awareness — all things that the world needs more of.
The poster board was originally invented by a high school teacher in San Francisco, Erin Castillo.
“Many of us struggle to find the words to ask for help,” Erin explained to BuzzFeed News. “I thought this poster could make it a bit easier for my students to reach out.”
Jessie Cayton is a teacher in Texas. She works with middle school students, and she shares honest stories about her teaching strategies and challenges on her social media pages.
Like many teachers, Jessie has a special knack for coming up with beautiful displays that look like they could easily be on a fancy restaurant menu somewhere.
And recently, one of her poster boards gained a lot of attention on social media.
She created a “check-in” board for students to write how they’re feeling by pasting a sticky note with their name on the back.
The categories range from “I’m great” to “I’m not doing great,” and everything in between.
As you can see, Jessie’s students were all over the place at the time that she snapped this photo, which allowed her to better understand their behavior throughout the day.
“Started class with this check-in today, and I’m so glad I did,” she wrote in the caption. “Time away from school is really hard for some of my kids. Coming back to school can be really tough, too. We’re sleepy, or cranky, or anxious, or turned all the way up to 1,000.”
“It’s easy to misinterpret behavior and its cause. But I’m grateful (especially as the day goes on) to have a little context for why we might be making the choices we are.”
Jessie also shared the poster on Facebook, where it went viral. It has almost 70,000 shares to date.
Clearly, this simple poster struck quite a nerve. It’s so rare that we’re able to honestly communicate our feelings in casual conversation — especially when you’re a middle school student!
But being in touch with our emotions could solve A LOT of problems, even for adults. And the sooner we get that practice and learn those strategies, the better. This chart makes “Feelings Talk” just another part of the school day, helping to normalize candid discussions about mental health.
Many other teachers shared Jessie’s post, excited to try the new board in their own classrooms.
The check-in method has been used by several other teachers on social media. Jessie says she found it while scrolling through “teachergram,” and she made a screenshot of the idea.
The originator of this brilliant idea? Erin Castillo, a high school English teacher in San Francisco.
Click “NEXT” to learn more about Erin, the creator of this idea!