For some school children, things get harder once the bell rings. Financial, familial and other problems mean that for a significant number of kids, school is the best part of the day.
Recently, third grade teacher, Kyle Schwartz set up an exercise called “I Wish My Teacher Knew.” The idea was for her pupils to give Schwartz some idea about their lives, and to share stories as a way of supporting one another.
“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.”
“I let students determine if they would like to answer anonymously,” she says. “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.”
“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,” Shwartz said.
“Building community in my classroom is a major goal of this lesson. 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.”
The hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew sprang up, and having been spurred on by Schwartz’s actions, teachers from around the world tweeted the results of their own exercises.