Password & Check in

Guys, I’m sensing a theme…

  • Last week we had a heartbreaking training on Trauma Informed Teaching. It was all about the horrible, terrible, tragic things affecting our kiddos’ lives, behavior and motivation and how we can make a difference in their lives by being positive and caring adults.
  • Then I went back to my classroom, with my heart hurting for my kiddos, and tried to write lesson plans, but that just didn’t seem THAT important with all this heavy stuff. SO instead I decided to pray for my kiddos on each attendance list (which is actually the best classroom management strategy I know of!) And I was shocked by HOW MANY kiddos I really didn’t know very much about their lives or what to pray for! For heaven’s sake, IT’S MARCH!
  • Then I saw this on Facebook: (I retyped the quote and hung it up in the Women’s Staff Bathroom…because I think it’s a good reminder for all of us!)bathroom inspiration
  • Then I watched Maestra Loca’s excellent presentation on Spanish Teacher Success Academy  on Mindfulness, which she defined as Seeing every student and hearing every student. 

Are you seeing the theme?! My kiddos need ME for WAAAAAY more than acquiring Spanish! (YOUR kiddos need YOU for WAAAAAY more than acquiring your language too!) But there are just so many of them and only one of me and one of you! 


My little darlings are in the habit of announcing the class password on their way into my classroom. (If passwords are new to you, they’re just so fun! You teach a phrase (useful or hilarious or a common saying) that you want your kiddos to acquire, and then in order to get into class, they have to say it to the teacher, and she lets them in.) Here are more details by Alina Filipescu, the classroom password founder!  It’s a little about learning a new phrase, but mostly about looking every kid in the eye, connecting with everyone in a small way, getting a read on their mood as they walk into class. I also sneakily use it to make sure all my darlings are complying with the dress code. -“Oh honey, your tummy looks cold, you better zip up your sweatshirt before you come in!”

Today we changed  it up a bit…

Check in:

Today, I met them at the door, as usual, but I asked a question in English, that caught most everyone by surprise: “What’s good in your world today?” And then I really listened, and asked follow up questions and had a glorious movement with every single one of my little darlings this morning. 

But Señora Chase?! What about everyone else?! Were they just waiting for you to finish? Yes and No. Thankfully it’s March and we’re doing Locura de Marzo to begin every class. I had the first video all cued up, so once the bell rang, I asked a student to start the video. So that took care of the kiddos who came in before the bell rang and were waiting for class to start. The rest waited patiently in a line while I was chatting with each, which gave them time to think about their answer. Some kids answered “I don’t know” or “nothing is good” and so I asked them to think about it and when they’ve thought of something, they can cut into line.

Today I learned:

  • One girl told me her mom just got a job and she’s so relieved because her mom was looking for work for a long time.
  • Another girl told me that she got a baby bulldog puppy that’s just so adorable and tiny and named LuLu. She promised to email me a picture.
  • One quiet boy admitted he likes coming to Spanish class first period because it’s a nice way to start the day. (I couldn’t agree more!)
  • Another girl told me that she’s finally been able to catch up on her sleep between our Gas Leak last Wednesday (school was canceled) and Teacher PD day Friday (no school for kids) and ACTs on Tuesday (only Juniors had school!). She said she’s feeling much less stressed because she isn’t exhausted.
  • I heard about weekend plans, baseball games, birthday parties and an exceptionally fun game of Settlers of Catan.

And there were a few kids who didn’t have anything good to say…they hung around the back, so no one was around when they told me the hard stuff:

  • One boy, tearing up, told me that they had to put his dog down yesterday.
  • One girl said, “There’s nothing good. We’re getting kicked out of our house and we don’t know where to go. I’m so stressed out.”
  • And another, the last one this afternoon, looked at me, eyes full of tears and didn’t say a word. I asked if she wanted a hug and she did. I told her to let me know how I can support her and she told me she would. Then she wiped off her tears and walked into class.

And the list goes on and on…and I felt like, for the first time in my 13 years teaching, I really saw and heard every kid in my classroom, in a real and meaningful way.

(In the past I’ve done written check ins…kids would answer a question on the back of their quizzes…but face to face was so much more powerful! I was able to show genuine interest, ask questions, wish them good luck, give high fives. Much better in person!)

So…will we check in every day? No. We’ll keep doing our password routine every class, but there will be more Check Ins. Maybe every few weeks or so, I’ll pose another question, and look them in their eyes as we have a conversation, in English! Because it’s important for me to remember that I teach students first, and Spanish second.

So…what’s good in your world today?





  1. Thank you! I stress about the need to stay in the TL all the time so at times I forget how meaningful an English interaction can be. Some of those students definitely need to be heard and this is a great idea. I will be trying this the day we get back from spring break! (I doubt the kids will even remember the Spanish password by then anyway after a week off haha, I know I won’t!!)


  2. When I did a check in today, I told students we have a “Marie Kondo” password: “What sparks joy in your world today?” (Lots of them know who she is and seem glad I didn’t make them fold anything in class.)


  3. Thank you – this was great to read and SO encouraging and helpful as we prepare for school to begin later this month….


  4. Thanks for all your ideas! I have spent the last few hours pouring over your posts. This one was huge for me as my school community had a difficult year. You are amazing and I didn’t realize it was you at first when a colleague of mine recommended I read your blog. I’ll keep reading your posts for inspiration. Thanks for the magic cards, first days of school ideas, fvr, etc. My head is spinning with excitement.


    • Thanks for your note!! You have no idea how much it means to me that this little blogcito is really being read by real people out there! Here’s to our best year of teaching yet! Cheers!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s