What are effective ways to check in with students about how things are going without bringing them undue attention or sending the message that I don't think they are capable of learning?

Periodically "checking-in" with a student is important in order to ensure that he or she is accessing your instruction and fully participating in classroom learning activities with a sense of comfort, acceptance, and success. Strategies to communicate with students are varied and depend on the student's age, abilities, and needs. It is critical to establish open, honest, and respectful communication. For a student who needs to develop organizational skills for assignments, checking-in can be as simple as asking the student to repeat the assignment that was assigned during the class period or a tangible system for recording assignments during the week, which needs to be reviewed by both the teacher and parents.

Factual Information

Frequently, it is important to check in with students in ways that are private to obtain information. For example, if you are unsure about whether or not a student with low vision can see the science experiment, rather than ask them in front of the whole class, which might yield a "Yes" response because the student does not want unnecessary attention, you can ask the student in private, when he or she is less likely to be influenced by what others might think.

Also, asking questions that require more than an affirmative or negative response may provide more information so that you get a better sense of how things are going. Using the above example, if you ask, "Did you see the science experiment?" The student can simply say, "Yes." If you ask, "Tell me what happened when the chemical was added to the beaker," the student will need to describe the action to demonstrate understanding and the ability to visually access the instruction.

When a paraprofessional is working in the classroom with a student, it is essential for the classroom teacher to continue to check in with the student in order to stay informed about the student's access and participation. Be sure to talk to the student and not to the paraprofessional and check in as frequently as you would with other students in the classroom.

Classroom Activities

  • Consider the strategies that you currently use to ensure that students understand the content of your lessons. Do they work for all students? If not, consider talking with those students for whom these strategies do not work to develop additional strategies.
  • Consider having the students in your classroom keep journals in which they can communicate with you and openly express their feelings about their experiences in your classroom.


Talk with colleagues about strategies they use to ensure students are comprehending lesson content. Could you adopt/adapt any of these strategies for your classroom?

Resources and Links