Teacher Kyle Schwartz of Doull Elementary School wanted to get to know her students, so she set up a special lesson to gain their trust called “I Wish My Teacher Knew.” This became an avenue for her students to write down thoughts that they wanted her to know.
“I let students determine if they would like to answer anonymously.”
“I have found that most students are not only willing to include their name, but also enjoy sharing with the class. Even when what my students are sharing is sensitive in nature, most students want their classmates to know,” she said.
Some submissions were the typical gripes of disgruntled third-graders.
Others, however, spoke of even bigger, more serious problems.
Poverty, in particular, is highlighted.
Currently, child poverty in the US is one of the worst in the world. UNICEF reports that over 30% of children live below the poverty line. Not only that, one in five kids are supported by food stamps.
As a matter of fact, “92% of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch,” Schwartz said.
Blown away by her students’ honesty, Schwartz has been sharing some of the notes on Twitter with the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew. Educators from all over the country have since joined the movement, sharing some of their students’ responses, as well.
While these notes provide a much-needed reality check on the struggles that many young students face — especially at home — Schwartz hopes that these can help students connect with their families and school to help them get the resources they need to live comfortable lives.
“Building community in my classroom is a major goal of this lesson,” Schwartz said.
“After one student shared that she had no one to play with at recess, the rest of the class chimed in and said, ‘We got your back.’ The next day during recess, I noticed she was playing with a group of girls. Not only can I support my students, but my students can support each other.”