First Thing Feelings - Terry's Teaching Tidbits

First Thing Feelings Each morning, we all wake up differently. Some of us carry the weight of what we experience the day before. Some of us get out of bed with excitement for a new and productive day. The feelings you have when you wake up in the morning can completely affect the future of that particular day.

I’m guilty of always thinking about how I’m feeling in the morning when I walk into my classroom and letting that frequently dictate my day.  Oftentimes, I realize I’m not even thinking about how my students are feeling that same morning.

I hate to admit this…but sometimes I’m so caught up in my own “stuff” that I forget to even ask them.  My goal is to stop doing this. I want to gauge how my students are feeling in the morning so that I can figure out how to tackle the day with them while keeping this in mind. Did something so horrible happen to them in the last 24 hours that all I can truly expect from them is for them to be physically present?  Are they dying to tell me something that they accomplished and having me acknowledge this will encourage them to work incredibly hard that day?

I Had to Find a Way to Dig Deeper

I decided to create a First Thing Feelings form that my students can fill out each morning to let me know how they’re doing.  They don’t have to fill one out, but it’s there for them.  After they select their feeling and explain more about it to me, they put it in our First Thing Feelings Mailbox.  The mailbox I bought has a slit to drop their form in.  It even has a lock so students can be assured that their feelings are protected and private.  Before we start class, I unlock the mailbox and read their forms privately to myself.  If I need to speak with a student, I will.

I’ve already had students turn in forms and I’m so glad that I did it.  I have a student who is very quiet, typically withdrawn, and doesn’t frequently share much or strive for academic achievement.  This student opened up to me in their form about something personal that I hadn’t expected.  It really opened my eyes to something that this student is going through personally that I may not have thought about.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to use this information to connect with this student throughout the year, understand him a bit better, be empathetic to what he’s going through, and create a memorable experience for his 5th grade year.

Update For Distance Learning

After switching to virtual teaching for part of the school year, I created a digital version of the First Thing Feelings questionnaire.  I was able to check in with my students even while we were apart.  The digital option is great for both distance learning as well as in a classroom where students have computer access.

I want to share this idea with you all.  I think it’s something that can be so powerful for you and your students.  If you’d like to try out First Thing Feelings with your class, CLICK HERE  and you’ll receive a copy of it.

Click here for the link to the mailbox I bought (Amazon Affiliate Link).


feelings, first thing feelings, SEL, social emotional learning, student check-in

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