Most good teachers try to connect with the kids in their classroom, but they aren't all successful at it.
Julia Brown was determined to get it right this school year, so she tried something new – a cardboard "I Need" box. It began as a way for her students to ask for help without having to come directly to her. They'd write it on a card and leave it in the box, and she'd get back to them before the week was over.
"I've been teaching middle school for 15 years, and I can honestly say this is the best thing I've ever done."
It quickly proved to be useful. "The first week, two boys let me know about a bullying situation," she wrote on Facebook. "We got it taken care of."
The success prompted her to change the format a little. Now, she has every single student put a card in the box every single day. They didn't have to write on it, but every student visits the box daily.
"Since then, I've had a plethora of 'needs' submitted," she said before listing some examples:
- I need help on a lesson we've already completed.
I need school supplies.
I need help with a friend issue.
I need help in another class.
I need a hug.
I need to talk to someone about a situation at home.
I need to change seats.
I need help with a bully.
Even more surprising, Julia has noticed that students have started to come to her directly with issues and challenges, knowing now that they will be heard without judgment.
"I've been teaching middle school for 15 years, and I can honestly say this is the best thing I've ever done to reach my kids this early in the school year," she said. "I hope many other teachers find it as successful as I have."