Daily check-ins with students are a strategy that educators can use to incorporate a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) lens into the classroom. Students learn self-awareness and emotional identification, while educators can better understand student needs and classroom dynamics that may affect learning. Class Catalyst is a digital tool to facilitate daily check-ins between teachers, student support staff, and students.
What Are Daily SEL Check-Ins?
Daily check-ins are “a process where students are invited to stop, pause, explore, and appreciate their emotions.”(1) SEL check-ins that are embedded in a daily classroom routine can help students, teachers, and student support staff become aware of emotions in themselves and others and set the ideal context for learning.(2) For example, if multiple students share during an early morning check-in that there was a frightening event on the school bus, a teacher could be more attentive to reinforcing psychological safety in teaching and learning activities. Educators may use technological tools for daily check-ins or more standard strategies, such as “hip hip hoorays,” Mood Meter and “gratitude circles,” to gauge students’ readiness to learn and their need for support.(3) The research to date on daily check-ins and the infusion of technology is limited, but there is little doubt that students are increasingly utilizing technology to learn, communicate and access support.(4,5)
What Is Class Catalyst™?
Class Catalyst is a web-based tool designed to help teachers and student support staff check in with students via simple and discreet technology familiar to students, in a quick, easy and private format. Class Catalyst is a Tier 1 tool with three primary goals: connection, self-awareness, and self-regulation. It is used with all students in a classroom, to help students become ready to learn. Students check in at the beginning of each class, typically taking less than three minutes to share how they are feeling through emoji-based icons and private student-to-teacher messaging.
Benefits to students: Based on their check-in responses, Class Catalyst provides students with a selection of individualized strategies for building self-awareness and self-regulation skills.(6,7) It provides an option for students to voice their feelings and concerns through messages and connecting with teachers and student support staff.
Benefits to educators: Class Catalyst provides teachers with real-time data, allowing them to gauge individual students’ energy level and mood as well as the overall condition of the class. It allows teachers to implement SEL check-ins with minimal intrusion to instructional time. It also provides data to help teachers and student support staff address students’ needs during the school day, incorporate SEL skills into their instruction and interventions, and support optimal conditions for learning.
What Do We Know about Class Catalyst?
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago conducted a quasi-experimental study of the Mindful Practices Framework,(8) which incorporates Class Catalyst for students’ daily SEL check-in.(9) The study included 208 students in PreK through second grade in a Midwest, mid-size school district. We found the Framework to have significantly improved students’ self-management (i.e., self-regulation) and social awareness skills compared to the students in the comparison group. The findings suggest that although Class Catalyst was not evaluated separately from the overall Framework nor as a standalone product, it can support the daily SEL check-in with students and positive outcomes of students’ SEL domains if used as a part of SEL implementation, along with professional development and coaching.(10)
Where Can We Go from Here?
New research is needed to understand how daily SEL check-ins benefits students, teachers, and student support staff and what the optimal strategies are to conduct the check-ins. Technology is being used in classrooms for myriad purposes, including SEL programming, and has the potential to be a powerful support tool for educators and students. Daily SEL check-ins are another potentially robust tool to support teachers and students and create optimal learning conditions. Class Catalyst is one tool that infuses technology into a daily SEL check-in. There is currently limited evidence on the effectiveness of daily student SEL check-ins as a standalone Tier-1 intervention or on the use of technological tools as part of check-ins. Furthermore, there is scarce evidence on student SEL check-in practices that embed the developmental lens of SEL domains, as well as “equity-elaborated SEL competencies” to address race-related stress in the lives of students of color.(11) Rigorous evidence can help schools determine whether and how to infuse technological tools, such as Class Catalyst, to reach their goal of promoting a supportive learning environment that respects and values diverse cultures and lived experiences.(12)
For more information on the impact of Class Catalyst and the Mindful Practices Framework on school communities, please contact Dr. Kiljoong Kim at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Kim, K. (2020). The effects of Mindful Practices/Class Catalyst Framework for social-emotional learning on academic and non-academic outcomes (Well-being) [White paper]. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. https://bit.ly/2MJ9caR
4. Reid Chassiakos Y, Radesky J, Christakis D, et al., AAP COUNCIL ON COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA. Children and Adolescents and Digital Media. Pediatrics. 2016;138(5): e20162593. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2593
5. Pew Research Center, May 2018, “Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018” https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2018/05/PI_2018.05.31_TeensTech_FINAL.pdf
8. Mindful Practices (MP) is a “national professional development organization that has been providing SEL services to the public school system for over a decade using a comprehensive, equity centered, and tech-driven” https://mindfulpractices.us/
9. Kim, K., Kakuyama-Villaber, R., Gurolnick, A. (2021). Mindful Practices SEL Framework: A Pilot Study on The Effectiveness of Mindful Practices Interventions in Niles, Michigan. Unpublished. https://pg.casel.org/mindful-practices-class-catalyst-an-integrated-sel-approach/
10. Kim, K., Kakuyama-Villaber, R., Gurolnick, A. (2021).
11. Griffin, C. B., Gray, D., Hope, E., Metzger, I. W., & Henderson, D. X. (2022). Do coping responses and racial identity promote school adjustment among black youth? Applying an equity-elaborated social–emotional learning lens. Urban Education, 57(2), 198-223.