The student-teacher relationship is a complicated one. Both the student and teacher must constantly ask him or herself, "How much information is too much information?" A teacher wants to get to know her students, but doesn't want to cross any lines. A student wants to share with this trusted person what's going on in his life, but again, doesn't want to cross any lines.
Kyle Schwartz, a third-grade teacher at Doull Elementary in Denver's Harvey Park neighborhood, seems to have made some progress on this issue.
"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."
In the hopes that her students would reveal something significant about themselves, she gave them a writing assignment in which she asked them to finish the sentence "I wish my teacher knew..."
As it turned out, her students were willing to share much more than she'd ever anticipated. And though she gave them the option to stay anonymous, most of them wanted to share their notes with the class.
Schwartz posted some of the students’ work on Twitter, using the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew, and urged other teachers to do the same, calling the project a "reality check."
Some responses reflected the everyday struggle of low-income families:
Some demonstrated the harsh realities of being a first-generation American:
Some revealed the student's innermost desire:
And others included the quintessential complaint of students worldwide:
These notes have started a movement. Students are being encouraged to engage more regularly with their teachers. Students are supporting other students. According to Schwartz, after that one student said she didn't have anyone to play with, a group of girls decided to play with her at recess the next day.
They've also directly inspired a community fundraising campaign. Schwartz has set up a DonorsChoose campaign to help teach her class financial literacy and secure funds to help out her students with disabilities.
#IWishMyTeacherKnew is a reminder that kids are dealing with hidden issues — from an absent parent to math homework — just as much as anyone else. And they should be able to ask for help.
(h/t ABC News)