LUBBOCK, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - A Texas teacher has been receiving a lot of online praise for a new method she has rolled out in her classroom to check in with students. It's called a 'mental health check in board,' and it allows students to communicate how they are feeling by using sticky notes.
Jessie Cayton is an 8th grade English teacher at the Cavazos Middle School in Lubbock, Texas.
She has been using forms on Google Docs for the last few years to regularly check in with her students and their emotional state. Recently though, Jessie was inspired to try a new board after she saw an Instagram post by Erin Castillo, a high school English teacher for students with mild to moderate learning needs in San Francisco.
Jessie is one of many teachers who have introduced a mental health check-in board designed for students to communicate how they're feeling by using sticky notes. The check-in board encourages students to write their names on the back of a sticky note and then placed it in the row that most accurately aligns with how they’re feeling 'right now.'
"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," Jessie explained in a caption. "It’s easy to misinterpret behavior and it’s 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."
We all have struggles. ••• Reaching out for help is a difficult task for many individuals, but it doesn’t need to be. Society has a way of encouraging people to push their feelings down and to continue on with life. This is not only unhealthy, but can be very dangerous. I took my first psychology class in high school and I was so intrigued by how the mind worked. I decided to pursue a degree in psychology when it came time to select my major. I knew I wanted to work with kids and I thought studying psychology would open doors and provide an opportunity to shape minds positively. My brother gave me permission to share a bit of his story with you all and it’s a large part of what’s inspired me to work with kids. My brother, @whyitdc, was adopted into our family when he was 4. I instantly felt a connection to him. Wyatt has struggled with anxiety and depression for likely his whole life, and as a young girl I remember comforting him and reassuring him of our love for him. Leaving him to go away for college made me feel extremely guilty, but I was set on gaining the skills needed to help other children with their struggles. I think of my brother’s story often and use it to fuel my drive towards helping others. I don’t think I do anything special or extraordinary, I just listen, care, and allow my students to see my struggles. I had a lot of “perfect teachers” growing up, but as educators there is a simple way to break down the stigma around mental health. S H O W your struggles. T A L K about your strategies for overcoming them. E X P L A I N how everyone faces difficulties. E N C O U R A G E feelings to be shared rather than pushed down. If there’s anything I’ve learned over my 6 years of teaching it’s that most kids WANT to talk, they just aren’t sure who to talk to or how to do it. ••• Thank you for all your positive feedback towards this piece of paper. I can’t guarantee it will save lives, but YOU CAN. Take an hour off from teaching curriculum and teach your students that mental health matters in this world! 💕 • • • #specialeducationteacher #teachersfollowteachers #iteachspecialed #teacherlife #teacherresources #teachersofinstagram #teachers #meettheteacher
FOX 7 Austin reported this story from Austin