It was meant to be a lighthearted exercise. But things quickly got heavy after Kyle Schwartz asked her third-grade students to finish the sentence “I wish my teacher knew … ”
Many of the Denver students come from underprivileged homes, and their notes were heartbreaking. They spoke about their home lives, in particular, and the difficulties they have there.
Moved by their honesty, Schwartz began posting some of the notes to Twitter (without any names attached) and tagging them #IWishMyTeacherKnew. It has since become a kind of movement, with other teachers joining in – highlighting the often silent struggles that kids everywhere face.
Here are some of the notes that Schwartz posted:
“Ninety-two percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch,” Schwartz tells 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.”
She lets the students write the notes anonymously if they wish, but has found that most want to put their names on them, and even talk about them in class, clearly wanting to share their experiences.
“Building community in my classroom is a major goal of this lesson,” Schwartz says. “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.”