Teacher shares heartbreaking notes from young students

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Thursday, April 16, 2015
Schwartz encourages other teachers to use the same lesson in their classrooms.
Kyle Schwartz-ABCNews

DENVER -- A Colorado teacher wanted to know more about her students, but she wasn't prepared for what she learned.

Kyle Schwartz teaches third grade at a Denver elementary school, and many of her students come from underprivileged homes.

"Ninety-two percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch," Schwartz told ABC News. "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."

PHOTOS: Teacher shares heartbreaking notes from young students

To build trust and learn more about her students, Schwartz started a lesson plan called "I wish my teacher knew," where students wrote down facts about their life that they wanted to share.

"I let students determine if they would like to answer anonymously," Schwartz said. "I have found that most students are not only willing to include their name, but also enjoy sharing with the class. Even when what my students are sharing is sensitive in nature, most students want their classmates to know."

Schwartz was blown away by her students' honesty, and shared the notes on Twitter with the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew, encouraging other teachers to try the same lesson.

Tweets have been pouring in since Schwartz started the movement, and she hopes that her lesson can help students connect with their families, schools and the resources they need to live comfortably.

"Building community in my classroom is a major goal of this lesson," Schwartz said. "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."

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