It’s often hard to ask for what you need out loud, but sometimes there’s no other way to get it.
Julia Brown is a Texas middle school teacher who understands how difficult it can be for kids that age to speak up about what they need to lead successful lives. Whether their needs are simple like a new pencil box, or something far more complex like help dealing with troubles at home, kids need a way to convey their wishes without fear of embarrassment or judgment.
Last year, Julia’s school gave the students a survey, and the results shook the teacher to her core.
“One of the questions asked the student to name an adult on campus they felt they could go to with anything,” she explained. “About 10% of our student population answered ‘no one.’”
Julia considers herself a motivational person who’s devoted to helping others, so when she learned that some students in her school felt that there was no one they could turn to, she was determined to take action. She spent her summer mulling over ideas to enable students to anonymously express their wants and needs, and she came up with the “I Need Box.”
It’s a simple paper-covered shoebox, but it signifies much more to Julia’s students. This is the place where they can slip in a note for just about anything on their mind, even if they’d be mortified to utter those thoughts out loud. They simply drop a note in the box and watch as their problems are magically addressed and solved by Julia and her fellow teachers.
Within a few weeks, the box was serving its intended purpose. Julia had her students visit the box once each school day, even if they didn’t have anything to ask for that day. “They didn’t have to write on it, but every student visits the box daily,” she wrote on Facebook.
“The first week, two boys let me know about a bullying situation,” Julia said. “We got it taken care of.” After that first week, the requests began flooding in. “They range from specific supply needs, seat changes, special handshakes when entering class, after-school help, bullying situations, and even daily hugs.”
Now that students know that Julia is open to listening to them and will do her best to help with whatever they’re going through, they’ve begun bypassing the box and coming straight to her with their challenges. Seems like the box served its purpose well!
Julia says that in all her years in education, this is one of the best methods she’s implemented to help her students both academically and personally.
“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.
What a marvelous way to let students know you care! Please share this idea to inspire other teachers to find new ways to reach out to their students.