A middle school teacher in South Louisiana has struck an emotional chord with her recently conducted classroom exercise, asking her students a question that has sparked a major conversation on mental health. A Facebook post she shared about the exercise is now going viral, offering a candid glimpse into the hearts and minds of middle schoolers and leading to a collective rethinking of how parents, teachers, and society at large engage with young adolescents.

The teacher shared the following message on Facebook:

“Okay y’all…I debated posting this. However, my kids have been heavy on my heart. I teach 142 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. This week I taught a lesson about how to handle stress and take care of your mental health. These kids opened up so much, I was overwhelmed with emotion.”

The teacher asked her students to respond to the question: “What is something you wish your parents understood about you?”

Here are some additional heartfelt responses from the students:

  • “That I don't care about a lot of things anymore and sometimes I just want to be left alone in my room minding my own business.”
  • “That I'm not always going to have good grades or do good at my games or be a good cheerleader. And I wish that they could see that I'm trying my best to fit in at school.”
  • “I wish they knew what I face at school with the bullies and how my relationship with my friends is. I also would wish they knew how I feel after they say something hurtful.”
  • “I wish that my parents would understand that it is hard to do two sports and keep up with school work and grades”
  • “I wish they understood that I will not be the exact same as my sister [REDACTED] and won't be able to do everything like her and be good at everything.”
  • “I like spending time with them.”
  • “That sometimes I am doing the best that I can.”

The responses spurred a mix of emotions, criticisms, and eye-opening moments from the Facebook community.

Sam Balye, Unsplash
Sam Balye, Unsplash

Some parents chimed in, saying, “Wow this blessed my soul,” while others stated, “This breaks my heart,” and “I’m not crying. You are.”

One concerned individual commented, “This is a worrying response... hopefully you can forward this one along to a counselor. The 'I don't care anymore' screams depression to me.”

While some missed the point of the exercise by criticizing typos and suggesting that students simply needed "tough love," others took a more empathetic approach. One respondent said, “It's sickening and disheartening that the point is missed due to ONE misspelled word smh. That's exactly the reason kids struggle..because they can't open up to those who are not LISTENING.”

The post has garnered over 1000 shares in just 24 hours, amplifying its reach and impact.

Redd F, Unsplash
Redd F, Unsplash

Some parents are now pledging to reassess their approach with their kids, with one stating, “Wish I had read this when my children were in school...I will strive to do better with my grandsons.” Another offered, “This is why my 7th grader gets one hour when she gets home from school to do what she pleases. No chores, no homework, nothing. She needs to decompress her mind to be able to focus.”

The ripple effect of this simple yet profound classroom exercise extends beyond the Louisiana community, resonating with parents, teachers, and even mental health experts around the world. While middle school is often a tumultuous time, marked by hormonal changes, social pressures, and academic challenges, the viral post serves as a poignant reminder that taking the time to listen can truly make all the difference.

Laura Rivera, Unsplash
Laura Rivera, Unsplash

As students are just beginning to settle into the new school year, this exercise has brought to light familiar conversations and somewhat of a growing sense that this is still just the tip of the iceberg on a much-needed larger conversation.

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