Being a kid can be hard, especially in middle school — and no one knows this more than teachers. They get a front row seat to the bullying, tears, and awkwardness. When kids are feeling down or need help, it’s often difficult for them to reach out and for help. (Hey, it’s hard at any age). So, one teacher decided to give them an anonymous way to tell her.
Julia Brown, a middle school teacher in Texas, shared a genius way to allow her students to ask for help without the embarrassment that often comes with it. She shared it on her Facebook page Julia Brown Food, Fitness and Fun, and the feedback has been nothing short of remarkable.
“I’m calling this my “I need box,” Brown wrote. “I’m going to set it out with notecards and pencils. If a student needs something they are not comfortable voicing aloud, they can write it on the notecard with their name and put it in the box. I’ll get back to them about it before the week is done.”
Brown listed a few examples her students could ask for help with, including tutoring, school supplies, and their home life.
Her goal was just to try something new to reach her students, understanding life can get overwhelming sometimes, and to let them know she’s always there for them — no matter what the issue.
Her original post was so well received that Brown posted an update several weeks into the school year. She said in the first week alone, two boys let her know about some bullying that was happening and she was able to take care of the situation.
Still, she wasn’t convinced that everyone would feel comfortable with the box. So, she decided to change things up a bit by having every student put a slip of paper in the box, even if it was blank. As a result, the students got used to using it, and it wasn’t as obvious when someone put a need in.
That change prompted even more students to add their needs to the box — everything from “seat changes, special handshakes when entering class, after school help, bullying situations, and even daily hugs,” according to Brown.
Brown tells Babble that several other teachers on campus have implemented the “I need” box in their classrooms after the success she had, and it’s been working well for them, too.
What’s more, Brown said it opened the lines of communication between her and her kids. It showed them that she was a person they could trust, and someone who would follow through on her promise to help them in any way she could. Now, she says they’re coming directly to her for support.
“I think it has had a great impact on the students,” she said. “My initial thought was if it helped even one student, I would consider it a success. So, it’s a success. I will keep it going all year and every year hereafter.”
As a mom of a middle schooler who would definitely not be one to raise his hand and ask for help, I think Brown’s creative thinking is just one more example of why we should love and appreciate all that our teachers do for our kids.