Check on your kids. They may not be OK.

011821_TT healthy check-ins thumb

Does this headline make you uncomfortable? It should. Healthy check-ins are a vital part of the growing up process.

It’s not all about yearbook. It’s about relationships. And right now, with a never-ending pandemic and mounting school stress, your yearbook teenagers need you more than ever.

Anxiety and depression are two of the leading causes of illness and disability in adolescents, according to the World Health Organization. But as the WHO sadly points out, it often goes untreated and unrecognized.

While we’re not counselors or a substitute for mom or dad, we can enact small changes to make the yearbook room a safe space. Simply, check on your kids.

The key to checking in

Make it easy for students to respond without singling them out. Index cards or sticky notes solve this problem.

Consider asking aloud or writing on the board: What are you most worried about right now? Writing answers provides anonymity, a choice that spurs more openness than if concerns are addressed publicly.

Recently, a teacher used a more elaborate check-in system to gage her students’ mental wellness. She added a chart on her board with a series of prompts:
          I’m great.
          I’m okay.
          I’m meh.
          I’m struggling.
          I’m not okay.

Students wrote their names on the back of the sticky notes and placed in the appropriate spot. Classmates only saw a blank sticky from the front. The teacher then reached out to students individually during the week to chat further with them. If anonymity is still a concern, consider having students write their responses and fold over the answers.

Whatever system you employ, please check on your students regularly. For many staffers, yearbook is a second home. Let’s make it feel like one.

Healthy check-ins_white board KLA weekly check-in is a great way to gage how your students are doing. Photo by Kel Lemons

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