George Lucas Educational Foundation
Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

Yeas, Nays, and Hip Hip Hoorays

A daily check-in practice in which students share their ups and downs can have a big impact on their well-being.

September 6, 2023
RLT_Images / iStock

Connecting with your students on a personal level each day can increase their motivation and decrease distracting behaviors in the classroom. Building a good rapport with students is one of the biggest factors in student success. However, with the ever-rising demand for teachers to increase the rigor and depth of learning, finding time to embed team-building moments into the day can seem overwhelming and daunting. We really need sustainable, practical, and easy daily student check-in strategies to implement. 

One of the most effective strategies to increase the social and emotional well-being of students is to have them participate in a regular “Yea, Nay, Hip Hip Hooray” discussion. Students are asked to share one thing they are happy about (Yea), one thing that is frustrating (Nay), and one thing they are excited about (Hip Hip Hooray). 

Creating Time for Checking In

Teachers know that undesired and disruptive behaviors stem from basic human needs that aren’t being met. Setting aside time each day to hear what is on students’ hearts and minds allows the teacher to quickly gather feedback and insights from students. If educators know that a student is having a particularly difficult day, that knowledge can help deescalate a situation quickly.

As teachers begin to implement this strategy, they should remember that sharing personal information, even if it seems like a minuscule amount, can be traumatizing for some individuals, especially if sharing information in the past has resulted in negative experiences. Be sure to acknowledge that sharing takes vulnerability, and also be intentional about thanking students for their participation. 

As each student shares, validate their feelings. Validation is an effective way for a person to be seen and heard. Telling a child that you are excited for their upcoming game, school play, or competition allows you to connect on a much deeper level. Conversely, when things are going wrong in a student’s world, sometimes it helps just to tell one person so that they know they are not alone and their feelings are acknowledged.  

Individual Yeas, Nays, and Hip Hip Hoorays

Teachers may want this activity to be just between the teacher and each individual student only. There are many ways to accomplish this.

Post-it note parade: Students write their Yeas, Nays, and Hip Hip Hoorays on a Post-it note. Teachers can choose to circulate and interact with students at their desks as they are working on this, or students can bring their Post-it note directly to the teacher for one-on-one interaction time.

Yeas, Nays, and Hip Hip Hoorays journal: Students can record their Yeas, Nays, and Hip Hip Hoorays daily in their writing journal. Teachers can collect these journals and write comments to students. This allows the double-entry journal process to be a potentially powerful one.

Use technology and surveys: With all the technological platforms available to promote the online collection of data, use one that is effective for you and your students. Microsoft Forms is an easy and quick way to send a survey to ask how students are and collect that data in real time. This generation of students has grown up in front of a computer screen, so sometimes they feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts in an online format. 

Group Yeas, Nays, and Hip Hip Hoorays

For teachers who want Yeas, Nays, and Hip Hip Hoorays to be a group activity with the entire class, there are several ways to easily implement this into your daily routine. 

Play classroom corners: Place Post-it notes in each corner of your classroom. Have students write their name and a Yea, a Nay, and a Hip Hip Hooray on a Post-it, and then stick it to the wall. Once everyone is finished, students can rotate through the other corners to view their classmates’ submissions. After each student visits each corner, the teacher can collect them and use them as empirical data for student or parent conferences.

Think-pair-share: Students can take a few moments to think of a Yea, a Nay, and a Hip Hip Hooray. Next, they can pair up with their class partner and share their answers while the teacher walks around the room monitoring and listening.

Write on the desk: Have each student use an Expo or other washable marker to record their Yea, Nay, and Hip Hip Hooray directly on the desk. After students complete the task, they can do a gallery walk around the room and read each desk.

Discussion boards: Practice writing and technology skills by having students write their Yea, Nay, and Hip Hip Hooray on an online discussion board. Once they submit their narrative, then they can read and respond to other students in the time that is left. They can also go to the discussion boards later and after school to continue responding to one other.

Art outlet: Instead of simply writing a Yea, a Nay, and a Hip Hip Hooray, students can choose to represent their answers by drawing pictures. This is especially helpful for students in the lower grades who are learning how to read and write.

A picture is worth a thousand words: Have students text the teacher three photos to represent a Yea, a Nay, and a Hip Hip Hooray. The teacher can project the images on a screen while the student shares verbally.

Whiteboard show-and-tell: Using individual whiteboards, students can write a Yea, a Nay, and a Hip Hip Hooray and show them to other students quietly after they complete the task.

Building Empathy and Compassion

Yeas, Nays, and Hip Hip Hoorays are an effective tool teachers can utilize to build trust and solid relationships with students. This practice can help students build empathy and compassion. These daily check-ins promote healthy habits that allow us to pause and celebrate successes in each other’s lives. They also give students the opportunity to rally around one another when support and empathy are needed.

Children need exposure to a healthy amount of reality, and they need to understand that not every situation ends in a positive way. Giving students spaces to talk about ways they can deal with their obstacles and problems allows them to find their own solutions and feel empowered. This is a social and emotional life skill that needs to be taught at every level daily if we want to create classrooms that are positive, inspiring, and conducive to learning.

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