"I don't have pencils at home to do my homework": Elementary students share heartbreaking notes with their teacher

The class exercise ended up sparking a much larger dialogue about privilege

Published April 17, 2015 3:49PM (EDT)

    (Shutterstock: Monkey Business Images)
(Shutterstock: Monkey Business Images)

Kyle Schwartz, a third-grade teacher at Doull Elementary School in Denver, wanted to get to know the lives of her students better. That's when she came up with the idea to launch a new lesson plan "I Wish My Teacher Knew." Schwartz asked her students to jot down a few words about themselves to submit anonymously -- but many felt empowered by the exercise to share with the entire class.

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After posting many of these notes to her Twitter account, the exercise intended for internal classroom use -- to strengthen the bond between teacher and student -- wound up sparking a much larger dialogue about privilege.

"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."

She continued: "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.”

Here are a few more of Schwartz's most heartbreaking submissions from students:

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[embedtweet id=588111236493135873]
[embedtweet id=585175332413505536]
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By Colin Gorenstein

Colin Gorenstein is Salon's assistant editor of internet and viral content. Follow @colingorenstein or email cgorenstein@salon.com.

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