6 Benefits Of Checking In With Your Students

Sarah, Teacher

As teachers, checking in with our students is something we do instinctively. 

But, how often do we reflect on what the benefits might be for improving learning outcomes?

Here are the 6 benefits of regularly checking in with your students, including 31 example questions you can use in class.

1. Support learner progress

One of the most important benefits of checking in with your students is understanding where they are in terms of their learning, and supporting them to progress further. 

Check-ins that support learner progress are typically focused on:

  • Checking what they understood from the lesson
  • Encouraging them to reflect on what they have learned
  • Helping them set their own learning goals and review their performance towards achieving them

Some sample questions you can use with your students include:

  • Lesson based questions, eg: “What is the lightest element in the periodic table?”
  • “What are you still struggling to understand from today’s class?”
  • “What is one goal you have for this week?”
  • “What is one thing you found difficult in achieving your goals this week?”

2. Build stronger relationships with your students

As teachers, we know the relationship we have with our students can make or break their behaviour in the classroom and appetite for learning. 

Taking the time to understand our students, and share a little about ourselves, can help build trust in the relationship.

Some questions that can help you get to know students include:

  • “What's one skill you have that makes you unique?”
  • “What's your favorite activity to do outside of class?”
  • “What's your greatest strength?”
  • “What's your superpower?”
  • “What three words best describe you?”

3. Support social and emotional learning (SEL)

Helping students develop their social and emotional skills has become a key element of teaching and learning.

Research highlights short term benefits of student engagement in SEL programs, including:

  • Enhanced self confidence, persistence and empathy 
  • Development of self management skills
  • Improved attendance and grades 
  • More positive social relations
  • Increased school and university completion
  • Career success
  • Better mental health
  • Becoming more engaged citizens
  • Positive work and family relationships

As teachers we are in a unique position to influence students' social and emotional learning. 

Some questions you can ask your students as part of your SEL teaching include:

  • “What’s one thing you mastered this year that you thought was going to be difficult?”
  • “What is one thing you did really well this week?”
  • “What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself working on your group assignment?”
  • “How have you ‘problem solved’ in your group for the term project?”
  • “What did you learn about working with others this term?”

4. Increase engagement

Keeping students on track and engaged with lessons is a challenge as old as teaching itself. 

Whilst there’s no magic wand, engaging students with the right questions and warm up activities can be a helpful exercise to add to your box of tricks. 

Check-ins that increase student engagement typically focus on:

  • Introducing new topics and gauging current understanding
  • Empowering problem based learning
  • Getting students ready to learn (bell-ringers)

Questions you can use with your students include:

  • “What do you already know about this topic?”
  • “What are three things you want to find out about this topic?”
  • “How will you go about finding out this information?”
  • “What was the most interesting thing you learned in our last lesson?”
  • “What are you most excited about at school this week?”

5. Assess learning climate

Creating a positive learning climate is related to students’ academic achievement and wellbeing. Students are more likely to be intellectually engaged when classroom and school learning climates reflect effective use of learning time, positive teacher-student relations, and positive disciplinary climates. 

Checking in with students can help gather their perspective on the learning environment, refine teaching approach, and identify what support they need to progress.

Some questions you can use with your students to assess the learning climate include:

  • “How supported do you feel in our class?”
  • “How can I help you feel more confident in our class?”
  • “What was the hardest topic to understand this term?”
  • “What was the best unit of this course for you?”
  • “What is one thing you would like me to START doing in class to help you learn better?”
  • “How clear are the learning goals in my class?”

6. Monitor well-being

Student well-being increases motivation, decreases disciplinary problems, increases academic achievement, improves school satisfaction and leads to flourishing students, communities, and nations (Buecker et al., 2018). Simply put, those who feel better can learn better.

Well-being checks give teachers the opportunity to make sure their students are coping well with things in and out of the classroom that may impact their ability to learn at school. 

Questions you can use with your students to understand their well-being include:

  • “How are you going outside of school right now?”
  • “Who can you turn to when you feel anxious or stressed?”
  • “What helps you get in a good mood when you’re feeling down?”
  • “How much sleep did you get last night?”
  • “What makes you feel anxious or stressed?”
  • “What makes you feel excited and joyful?”

Summary

By taking a structured approach to regular student check-ins, you can support both academic and social development, whilst also creating an environment more conducive to learning.

Find these questions and more in your Ziplet account or check out our full list of lesson ideas.

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