Teacher’s Unique Writing Prompt Sheds Light On Her Students’ Lives

A class of third-grade students in Denver recently received a different type of writing assignment. They were asked to respond to the prompt: “I wish my teacher knew,” and the responses were surprising, even shocking, to Kyle Schwartz, who came up with the assignment for her kids at Doull Elementary. She shared some of the students’ honest responses anonymously on Twitter with the hashtag #iwishmyteacherknew.

Schwartz was interested in learning more about her students, and the writing prompt helped her better connect with them on a personal level. According to ABC News, Schwartz said, “Some notes are heartbreaking like the first #iwishmyteacherknew tweet which read, ‘I wish my teacher knew I don’t have pencils at home to do my homework.’ 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.”

Although you may interact with different people every day at your job, in class, or during weekly club meetings, you may not consider all the challenges they face on a daily basis. It’s easy to go through life and focus on yourself and your own day-to-day situations and problems, but sometimes it helps build compassion when you connect with other people’s situations. You might even grow closer to people by sharing advice and helping them with any problems they might have.

When I worked in the public school system as a school psychologist, collaborating with teachers was one my main responsibilities, but one teacher in particular seemed to always have a negative attitude. At first, I was taken back and wanted to avoid contact with her. After a few days of reflection, however, I realized she might be going through a tough time. It wasn’t until I learned more about her personal life that we truly connected. Reaching out to her and asking her how she was doing helped build our collaborative relationship.

How can you reach out to someone like Schwartz did in Denver? We often make quick judgments and categorize someone as negative or difficult to work with, but what if there is more to the story? Instead of assuming the behavior is part of their character, reach out to them and connect on a personal level. Your listening ear or words of encouragement may be just what they need.

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