Kyle Schwartz, a third grade teacher in Denver, Colorado is opening a lot of eyes (including her own) to some realities that many students face–not having the support that they need at home or at school.
“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.”
She has been teaching for three years.
To build trust and get to know her students better, Ms. Schwartz came up with the lesson plan, “I Wish My Teacher Knew.” The students were allowed to tell her anything they thought she should know about their lives.
“I let students determine if they would like to answer anonymously. 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.”
The kids have even joined in to support each other after learning their stories.
“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.”
After Ms. Schwartz’s story was publicized, requests to help her students came pouring in. And teachers were inspired to try the lessons in their classrooms. Most importantly though, she wishes to connect her students with the resources that they need for a successful education.
Via Twitter, she posted:
— Kyle Schwartz (@kylemschwartz) April 17, 2015