Jul 22 / Joel Medley

Check in Process and Template

Whether a teacher or school leader, we all do “check-ins.” These could be with students, colleagues, teachers, administrators, or a host of other school stakeholders. These are even good to do with family members to continue having conversations as kids become less talkative teenagers.

A simple check-in is vitally important for this reason – without regular check-ins, we all tend to check-out. To be our best for our students, we need to be fully present (aka “checked-in”) and consistent conversations help maintain that focus.

Other than not having check-ins, the biggest problem is that we fail to truly leverage them. We spend most of the conversation chit-chatting about life and the latest school situations but use little time to course correct, thereby, increasing our chance at goal attainment. In short, you and I need an intentional plan to shift from simple meetings to structured motivations.

A consistent format is but one way to keep these check-ins focused and short – only about 10 or 15 minutes. To be both effective and efficient, you must simplify and structure the process. We have a free template that you can download for you check-ins. It includes the purpose, topic, questions, and responses; so, let’s discuss each quickly.

Purpose. Topic. Questions. Responses.

1. Purpose – these are your four guiding questions that you would work through in some way during the quick check-in. It helps examine actions, motivations, personnel, and support.

2. Topic – this section helps move you from the “minor many” topics of conversation and focuses you on the “major few.” Those major areas are task, goals, growth, and support. In some way, you will cover them all during each check-in.

3. Questions – sometimes you need starter questions to guide the discussion and get feedback. Bear in mind that you will not ask each of these questions every time. These will change as needed and you will even add to these questions over time.

4. Responses – please do not overlook this section. This is where brief summaries are included and shared with the other person. This reminds both of you about the action steps to be implemented over the next couple of weeks.
Years ago, while working in a school, I assumed that we were making good progress but was challenged to check my assumptions. In doing so, I discovered that we were not sailing but drifting. Using the check-in process earlier in the school year would have kept us all on course, saving us the wasted time and effort. Learn from my mistake!

Remember to check-in with others so that they do not check-out.  And, of course...