Teachers are always devoted to their students, but kids don't always get the chance to tell their teachers what they want or need from them. That's why Denver elementary school teacher Kyle Schwartz gives her students a simple assignment, every school year: "Write down one thing you wish your teacher knew". What she didn't know was how important that simple sentence could become in the lives of the students and herself - and what an impact it would make on the rest of the country.
1. Giving Kids The Chance to Open Up
While Kyle expected a few complimentary or even silly answers from her students, what she didn't expect was how responding to her prompt would empower her students to open up. Some of the answers she got showed her how much stress and concern kids can keep to themselves - whether it's because they don't know how to tell anyone else or because they feel like they can't tell anyone else.
Asking students to write down what they wished their teacher knew gave the kids the ability to know how freeing it can be to tell someone about how they feel, even if it might be difficult for them to talk about in any other way.
2. Giving Kids the Tools They Need
While some students might have mentioned that teachers helped them learn the basics, others talked about how they loved school but had a hard time succeeding because of their or their family's needs. Knowing what her students were going through gave her the opportunity to help those students in need. When Kyle shared some of her students' notes on social media, people who saw how some students lacked the resources they needed, help for those students came from all over and in abundance.
Students without pencils had them sent to their schools. Kids who might not have had friends received advice and love from people they hadn't met. Kyle's "I wish my teacher knew" notes touched enough people that they remembered what it was like to go through school that way, and they did anything they could to give those students the chance to be the best they can be.
3. Giving Kids a Voice
Most of the time, kids in school are told what to write down on their papers or are told what the "right answer" to prompts or assignments is. But with this assignment, Kyle said that students weren't just given busy work - they were given the ability to know what it's like to have control. They didn't have to write down the "right" answer or ask what that answer was.
They could say whatever felt right to them, showing them that their words and their thoughts are as important as anyone else's. And once the movement had truly taken off, the kids have even more of a chance to have their voices heard across the country. They know that people care about what they have to say - a powerful, vital lesson the kids can now take with them for the rest of their lives.
If you'd like to help the students in Kyle's class, and do what you can to change the life of a child, head to iwishmyteacherknewbook.com to pick up Kyle's book and learn what you can do to lend a hand.
What do you wish your teacher knew? Tell us on our Facebook page, @TheListShowTV.