Kyle Schwartz, a teacher at Doull Elementary School in Denver, came up with an innovative class activity in a bid to build a connection with her third-graders.
A majority of the students in the school belong to underprivileged families who struggle to make the ends meet. Although she has been an educator for three years, she felt she hadn’t built enough trust with her students. Therefore, in order to understand the kids better, she asked them to write down the things they wish their teacher knew about them and share it with her.
“Ninety-two percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch,” Schwartz told ABC News. “As a new teacher, I struggled to understand the reality of my students' lives and how to best support them. I just felt like there was something I didn't know about my students.”
The students weren’t required to put their names on the notes.
Schwartz knew that these children struggle with certain things in their life and that it would make them feel better to share this stuff with her and their classmates.
“I let students determine if they would like to answer anonymously,” the teacher added. “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.”
However, the notes she received by these children at the end of the assignment were truly heartbreaking. Eventually, Schwartz decided to share these notes on her Twitter which created a hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew.
“Some notes are heartbreaking like the first #iwishmyteacherknew tweet which read, ‘I wish my teacher knew I don't have pencils at home to do my homework.’ I care deeply about each and every one of my students and I don't want any of them to have to suffer the consequences of living in poverty, which is my main motivation for teaching,” she said.
The campaign has inspired others to follow in Schwartz footsteps. Other teachers began assigning their students with the same activity while others shared their thoughts on social media.