The Check-In: A Classroom Routine For Focus, Accountability, and Progress

What If…

  • students could self-monitor and adjust their learning?
  • students sought feedback and support from their peers throughout their learning?
  • the teacher knew who needed help at any time?
  • the teacher could see the student’s progress at any time?
  • when working in groups, you could shift from confusion to clarity. Everyone knows who was accountable for what and when?
  • the teacher’s time is freed up from classroom management to allow for more time to coach and connect with students?


These are some benefits of “The Check-In Routine,” the third Self-Directed Learning Routine in the Learning Sprint. It makes progress toward the learning goals visible. The visibility evokes conversations and grows students’ capacity to self-monitor, adapt, and seek support.

The Check-In Routine is short and frequent. It is typically scheduled at the beginning of each class period and lasts at most 5-7 minutes. During the Check-in, the teacher and students use the Learning Canvases to make the learning plan, tasks, and progress visible. It also encourages early feedback and support throughout the learning. An Agile Classroom asks these four questions during the Check-in:

  1. What was done since the last Check-in?
  2. What do we intend to finish?
  3. What is ready or feedback/assessment?
  4. Are they any roadblocks to our progress?

The 4 Questions In Detail

Let’s zoom in on each question to see what this may look like in more detail:

Q1. What was done since our last Check-in?

Discuss which tasks are done and move the tasks to the  ‘Done’ column on the Learning Canvas. You may also do a quick verification if it was really done. Such as, “To call this ‘done,’ it needs to be spell-checked. Was it spellchecked?” If so, move it done. If not, it stays in doing until it is spell-checked.

Q2. What do we intend to finish by our next Check-in?

Discuss and select which tasks will be worked on next. These include tasks currently in progress and any tasks intended to be worked on until the next Check-in.  Tasks are moved to ‘Doing’ on the Learning Canvas. Participants may label the tasks with their names for added accountability.

Q3. What is ready for feedback or assessment?

Discuss if there is anything ready for feedback or assessment.  Add those items to the ‘Feedback’ area on the Learning Canvas. The feedback activity does not happen during the Check-In Routine. It is just being made visible to ensure it happens after the Check-In Routine.  Participants may determine who provides feedback after the Check-in.

Q4. Are there any roadblocks?

The Check-in is a time to make any blockers visible and identify who can help to remove them. 

Highlight the blocker by placing it in the ‘Help’ area of the Learning Canvas. The Check-in is not the time to problem solve; it is a time to communicate there is one.

Scaffolding and Differentiating the Check-in

The Check-In Routine makes progress and accountability visible, enabling faster adaptation to learner needs. It serves as a scaffolding for increased collaboration and self-direction. All of the Self-Directed Learning Routines in Agile Classrooms can be grown along the Spectrums of Collaboration and Choice.  Where they are on the spectrum will depend on the readiness of the teacher and the students. Frequent practice of the Check-in, as with all the Self-Directed Learning Routines, supports students as they incrementally increase their levels of collaboration and choice.  For this article, we are keeping it simple and examing how the Check-in may look at each end of each of the spectrums.

Check-In Along the Collaboration Spectrum

At the beginning of the Collaboration Spectrum, each student works individually, using their own Learning Canvas. At the higher end of the Collaboration Spectrum, students perform the Check-in as a team. Tasks are distributed among the members of the team. They share ownership over all the work and use a shared Learning Canvas.

Two ends of the Spectrum of Collaboration

You can read about all 5 levels in the Spectrum of Collaboration here.

Check-In Along the Choice Spectrum

At the beginning of the Choice Spectrum, students observe the teacher model the Check-In Routine. The teacher provides the answers to the four questions. At the opposite end of the Choice Spectrum, students conduct the Check-In Routine independently, answering the four questions on their own and pulling in the teacher only when needed.

You can read about all 5 levels in the Spectrum of Choice here.


We created a protocol checklist and feedback sheet for the Five Self-Directed Learning Routines. These are not meant for compliance but for support and guidance. To download the Check-in Protocol and Feedback Sheet, visit the Agile Classrooms Resources page.

Check-In Protocol Printables

To understand the complete Agile Education Framework, please read the Agile In Education Guide, downloadable from our Free Resources For Educators page.

The Check-In Routine is adapted from the Daily Scrum.