Friday, April 17, 2015

Teacher's Simple Question Reveals Impoverished Kids' Hidden Struggle

Between bullies, peer pressure, and standardized tests, kids have a lot on their plate. And that's just while they're on school grounds. For many, things just get harder once the final bell rings.

In an attempt to build trust and community in the classroom, third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz thought up a lesson plan called "I Wish My Teacher Knew."
"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."

Periodically, she asks her young students to jot down a thought for their teacher, sharing something they'd like her to know about them.
"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."

Blown away by her class' honesty, as well as the heart-breaking struggles these 8 and 9 year olds, Schwartz began sharing some of the notes on Twitter using the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew.
She hopes to encourage fellow teachers to employ the same lesson with their own students.

Tweets and photos of notes from other schools are already pouring in from around the world.

"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."

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