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Denver Teacher Finds Heartbreaking Information During a Trust Exercise

By: Krystle Crossman

A third grade teacher from Doull Elementary School in Denver, Colorado had her students complete an exercise so that she could get to know them a little better. She expected them to write about things that they did at home or what their favorite television show was. Instead she found some of the answers to be heartbreaking and far more in depth than she ever could have imagined.

Teacher Kyle Schwartz new that many of the children in her classroom came from underprivileged homes. She wanted to try and find a way to best support them so she came up with an exercise to learn a little bit more about them. She called the exercise “I Wish My Teacher Knew”. She had the students write down anonymously on paper things that they wish their teacher knew about them. It was a trust building exercise that ended up turning into much more. Schwartz was surprised at how many of her students put their names down anyway and how many were more than happy to share what they had written with the entire class. Despite the sensitive nature of some of their writings they were still more than happy to share with everyone instead of having their writing be anonymous.

Schwartz posted some of the responses on Twitter (without the student’s name) and used the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew in an effort to try and get other teachers to do the same exercise. She got more insight into their lives than she could have realized. Below are some of the responses from her students:

– “I wish my teacher knew I don’t have pencals at home to do my homework.”
– “I wish my teacher knew how much I miss my Dad because he got deported to Mexcio when I was 3 years old and I haven’t seen him in 6 years.”
– “I wish my teacher knew I don’t have a friend to paly with me.”
– “I wish my teacher knew sometimes my reading log is not signed because my mom is not around a lot.”

These honest answers from her students gave other teachers the inspiration to start doing the exercise. Schwartz states that she feels the reason it caught on so quickly is because teachers truly have a vested interest in their students and are collaborative when it comes to figuring out how to best help them.

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