What started out as an attempt to get to know students has turned into a heartbreaking, yet necessary, conversation about underprivileged kids.
On March 27, Denver, Colorado third grade teacher Kyle Schwartz tweeted, "Had my students write 'I wish my teacher knew___' It's a reality check."
The Doull Elementary educator was referring to an exercise she tried with her students to build their trust. She asked her students to finish the sentence "I wish my teacher knew..." and the responses she received were so moving, she posted them to her Twitter page.
"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 told ABC.
Now, the world can see the struggles that not only these students face, but underprivileged children everywhere in the United States.
"I wish my teacher knew I don't have pencals at home to do my homework."
"I wish my teacher knew I don't have 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."
"I wish my teacher knew vietnamese because then she can say words that I forget and songs."
"I wish my teacher knew how much I miss my dad because he got deported to Mexico when I was 3..."
If these notes surprise you, consider them a necessary wake up call.
One in 5 kids are supported by food stamps. Child poverty in the U.S. is among the worst in the world. According to the UNICEF report, a over 30 percent of children live below the poverty line, which "can impede children's ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems."
In addition to poverty, the notes also show that students may face a plethora a various home life issues — absent parents due to working overtime or neglect, deportation, bullying, abuse, alcoholism — that still affect them in a negative way.
As a principal, I met with parents who were addicted to drugs, who lived in poverty, and who had no means of meeting some of their children's basic needs. It didn't take long to realize that I needed to do more to make a difference in my students' lives.
By sharing these letters, and thereby spreading awareness of the baggage so many kids carry in their lives, Schwartz is making a difference, too.