“I wish my teacher knew I don’t have a friend to play with me.”
“I wish my teach knew I don’t have pencils at home to do my homework.”
“I wish my teacher knew how much I miss my dad because he got deported to Mexico when I was 3 years old …”
“I wish my teacher knew sometimes my reading log is not signed because my mom is not around a lot.”
These are just a few of the heart wrenching notes which Kyle Schwartz, a 3rd grade teacher at Doull Elementary School in Denver, CO, received from her students. The notes were in response to an assignment which Schwartz designed in an effort to better know her students and their needs. The instructions were simple: Complete this thought--I wish my teacher knew ...
"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."
Students were given the choice to remain anonymous or sign their names if they felt comfortable. Most not only signed their names, but were willing (anxious even) to read their responses in front of the class.
"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."
Schwartz is sharing the results of her assignment on social media in the hopes of encouraging other teachers around the country to give their students a forum for transparently sharing their inner thoughts and struggles.
Pastor, how well do you understand the reality of your parishioners' lives and how best to serve them?
Our pews are filled with people hiding behind their hymnals and bulletins, struggling silently with life’s challenges.
Perhaps it’s fear of judgment, or maybe it’s fear that no one would really care anyway.
What if you asked your people to complete this thought--I wish my pastor knew …? Is it possible that what you learned from their responses could help you foster an environment of safety and transparency—an environment where they could feel safe to share their inner thoughts and struggles? Not only would you be better able to support your people, but your people would be better able to support each other.
“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16, NIV).
“Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, ESV).
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16, NLT).