Welcome back to “Emotions Matter”, with BGCA’s own Kate Endries! In case you missed it, check out 5 Easy Emotional Check-Ins. TL;DR, here is what you need to know:
- Everyone feels a wide range of emotions every day.
- Emotions influence the way we interact with our environment and other people.
- Emotional check-ins are a way for you to pause, reflect on how you are feeling, get support when needed, and adjust your interactions with others and your environment to better meet your needs.
Making emotional check-ins a regular part of your staff meetings and programs can have a big impact on your Club’s culture. Here are some ways you can do that throughout the Club:
- Front Desk
As you check members into the building for the day, complete an emotional check-in using the Feelings 1-10 technique. This technique asks youth to quickly rank how they are feeling on a scale of 1-10. It can provide program staff with valuable information on members overall feeling as the enter the Club for the day. For example: if many of the members had a hard day at school because of statewide testing, it may be helpful for staff to know that the kids are not feeling great.
- Snack/Dinner Time
During meal times, ask staff to sit with the members at their tables, model appropriate meal time behaviors, and more importantly complete an emotional check-in using the Rose, Bud, Thorn technique. During this technique, staff will ask youth to share the best part of their day, something they are looking forward to, and something they wish would have gone better. Encourage staff to model this check-in by going first, to be an active listener while each youth at the table shares about their day, and to provide appropriate support throughout. This type of check-in is extremely valuable for youth and staff alike. It provides staff with a sneak-peek into the members lives, and allows social and emotional skill building among peers.
- Program Session
Before you begin your program session, complete a quick emotional check-in with the members. Ask members share with a partner using the Pop Culture technique by choosing a song or movie that is representative of how they are feeling. Allow 1-2 minutes for large group sharing for those that feel comfortable. You can use this information to adjust your program and provide support to members in need.
Complete an informal emotional check-in during program when you sense a change in the energy of the group, or if you notice them straying from the activity. Pause for a moment, and ask the group to complete an emotional check-in by holding up a thumbs-up, thumbs-down, or thumbs in the middle for how they are currently feeling. You can use this information to adjust your program and provide support to members in need.
After youth have completed the program activities, cleaned up their supplies, and received instructions on where they are expected to be next, complete a quick emotional check-in with them before they line up to leave. Ask members to check-in as a large group using the Internal Weather Report technique by choosing a weather word that represents how they are feeling. Follow up with any youth that may need it before they begin their next program, and/or alert the staff in their next program that the member may need some extra support.
- Staff Check-Ins
At every staff meeting, complete an emotional check-in before jumping into the agenda. Ask staff to share with a partner using the Highs and Lows technique by sharing the best part of their day, and something they would like support with. Staff can choose to share what they discussed with their partners with the larger group. Use this information as a quick pulse check on how staff are feeling, and what they may need support with moving forward.
During programs, staff can complete a quick, informal emotional check-in with each other using the thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs in the middle strategy described above. Staff can check-in with their peers, and/or directors can check-in with their staff as they float around the Club. This type of emotional check-in can help provide quick information on how staff are doing in their programs and if they are in need of support.
Emotional check-ins are important because they help youth and staff know that their voice matters. They provide each person the opportunity to share parts of their lives that they may not usually share and provide staff with the opportunity to follow up and provide support when needed.
By utilizing regular emotional check-ins in your Club environment, members and staff are provided opportunities to improve their social and emotional skills. Emotional check-ins create a culture of sharing, empathy, peer support, and emotional safety.
Always make a plan for following up on concerns shared during emotion check-ins. If members share that they are need of support, be sure to create space and time to provide that for them. If when sharing about their feelings a member share something concerning that requires follow up for a safety related reason, be sure to follow your Club’s policies on mandated reporting. Club staff can learn more at BGCA.net.
What are your favorite emotional check-ins? How do you create an emotionally safe environment at your Club? Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org to share your best ideas.