From daily hugs to addressing bullies, this teacher’s ‘I Need’ box is a huge hit with her students
Teacher-student communication is one of the key tenets to a successful education — and one of the hardest to effectively maintain. Which is why it’s no surprise that one teacher’s brilliant yet simple idea for getting through to her students and helping them enjoy their learning environment has gone viral.
Julia Brown, a middle school teacher in Texas, created an ‘I Need’ box for students in her classroom to use as an anonymous sounding board of sorts, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. She wanted to offer her students a way to ask for help without having to approach Brown directly, in case they were too afraid or self-conscious. So they just write down what they need on a card, and drop it in the box.
The box has only been in Brown’s classroom for a few weeks, and already it’s working wonders for her students. “The first week, two boys let me know about a bullying situation,” she explains. “We got it taken care of.”
By the second week, she decided to change the format of the box and had every student begin putting cards in the box each day. “They didn’t have to write on it, but every student visits the box daily,” she says.
After the first two weeks, she says she’s had a “plethora of needs” submitted to the box for her attention. “They range from specific supply needs, seat changes, special handshakes when entering class, after-school help, bullying situations, and even daily hugs.”
Doesn’t this just make your heart burst? It’s not easy for many people, young or old, to unabashedly ask for what they need. No matter how big or seemingly small the request — a daily hug, ugh, my heart — sometimes the simplest things can make such a huge difference. What an important lesson for us all.
But the magic of the ‘I Need’ box doesn’t end there. “What’s even better is students are starting to come to me directly with issues/challenges they are having bypassing the box completely,” Brown says.
The idea for the box was inspired by a survey of students during the previous school year. “One of the questions asked the student to name an adult on campus they felt they could go to with anything,” Brown tells Scary Mommy. “About 10% of our student population answered ‘no one.'”
She says the results affected her deeply, and she thought about how best to approach the issue all summer long. Thus, the ‘I Need’ box was born. Now her students — and hopefully more — know that their teacher will do her best to give them what they need to have a better school experience. Brown says she hopes other teachers adopt the idea into their own classrooms and find as much success with it as she has.
“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.”