Teachers have the power to change the world by influencing the minds of the next generation.
When teachers go above and beyond the education system to not only instill important values in the youth, but to encourage them to become more confident and happy individuals, their story deserves to be shared.
There are a considerable amount of educators making a difference around the world, but one particular middle school teacher is changing the way she communicates with her kids, and her method has gone viral.
"I'm calling this my 'I need' box"
Julia Brown from Texas has been teaching middle school for more than 15 years, so she knows a thing or two about how to communicate with children in this age group.
The only problem is that it's hard to get students to open up early on in the school year, which is likely the time when they have the most concerns.
And so, Brown thought of a clever trick to get her students to openly express how they feel: A box where students who are not comfortable voicing their concerns aloud can write their feelings down.
"We did a campus wide survey of the students," she told CafeMom about the origin of the 'I Need' box. "One of the questions asked the student to name an adult on campus they felt they could go to with anything. About 10 percent of our student population answered 'no one.'
A couple of the students who answered no one were my students. That about broke my heart and weighed heavily on my mind all summer. The 'I Need' box was born from that. ... It was my desire to make sure my students knew I was there for them no matter what they needed, large or small."
In late August, Brown also shared on Facebook what she hopes to get out of this box.
She even wrote example questions to encourage her students to write down their feelings.
- "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.
I just want to let my students know I'm there to help them with anything they need."
Last week, Brown posted an update of the success of the box, and the some of the responses she received will make you emotional.
Brown posted her update on Facebook, sharing that in the first week, two boys notified her about a bullying situation that she was able to get taken care of.
Noticing that a difference is being made, the middle school teacher asked every student to put a card in the box every day:
"They didn't have to write on it, but every student visits the box daily."
Since that change, students are more vocal about specific needs, such as "supply needs, seat changes, special handshakes when entering class, after school help, bullying situations, and even daily hugs."
This is what Brown loves most of all: "What's even better is students are starting to come to me directly with issues/challenges they are having bypassing the box completely.
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."
"The world needs more people like you"
Brown's updated post has nearly 90,000 likes and more than 90,000 shares.
All sorts of people have commended her clever idea, and are inspired by her kind heart.
"This made me cry! What awesome why for the children to address the problems. You are a wonderful teacher," one woman wrote.
"That is a truly inspired, fantastic idea. I hope other teachers read about this and do it. Thanks for being a caring teacher and providing such a safe way for kids to reach out for help when they need it. The world needs more people like you," another commented.
One person shared how her teacher once did something similar, and how that changed her life.
"My grade 9 health teacher did something like this, it worked well I think. Considering I graduated high school in 1996 and I still remember what I had written on the card and how much the teacher helped out."