Return to Headlines

Lawrence counselor creates special way to check in with students

Lawrence counselor creates special way to check in with students

Lawrence Elementary school counselor Sara Penner Lawrence Elementary counselor Sara Penner has created a unique way to touch base with students, giving them an opportunity to reach out if they need one-on-one time with her.

In the mornings, teachers line the school’s halls greeting students before they start their day.

As they students near Penner’s office, she greets them. Occasionally a student will reach out to her and ask for a check-in.

They are then invited into her office to fill out a little slip of paper which the student then places into one of five color-coded slots, based on the zones of regulation, which categorize states of alertness and emotions.

The five choices they have are:          

  • I’m OK
  • I’m great
  • I’m struggling but can manage
  • I need a counselor check-in sometime this week
  • I would like a counselor check-in today

“This gives me a feel for how our students are feeling as they come to school,” said Penner. “It then shows me who needs an extra check-in or help during the week.”

Penner says she has between 20-25 students who choose to do the morning check-in daily. She is assisted by one or two fifth graders who help younger students fill out the slips.

Most of the students that complete the check-in just want to say they are doing OK or great and are ready to learn.

“But for the few students that need to ask for more individual time together sometime that week, this is an opportunity for them to reach out,” said Penner. “I might then go find those students on the playground, connect with them at lunchtime or see them in the hallway during a passing period, as to not interrupt instructional time as much as possible. If from there they need additional time in my office, we try to make those arrangements.”