Growing up, we all can remember having teachers that we liked, and others that we didn’t like. The teachers that seemed to be the best liked teachers at school, were the ones that took an interest in their students’ lives.
Kyle Schwartz, a teacher, recently gave her third graders an assignment to get to know them better. The assignment was simple – each student had to write a sentence that began with the phrase, “I wish my teacher knew…” The results helped her students really open up to her in some very unexpected and heart-breaking ways.
Kyle said, “As a new teacher, I struggled to understand the reality of my students’ lives and how to best support them. I just felt like there was something I didn’t know about my students.”
The assignment not only helped Kyle get to know her students a bit better, but the students themselves also seemed to really like it too. They had the option of remaining anonymous but a good portion of them decided against that, signing their names.
“Even when what my students are sharing is sensitive in nature, most students want their classmates to know,” Kyle stated.
The assignment’s popularity has caught on quickly, and now, teachers from across the globe are using the same thing with their students. And the answers are just as impactful.
Since creating the assignment, Kyle has gone onto write a book entitled, “I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything For Our Kids,” which is filled with a variety of her students’ responses.
Answers have varied from complex parental situations, to use stating their favorite things. Most of them are bittersweet responses. Following Kyle’s lead, here are some of the responses garnered from other teachers.
One teacher learned about a child’s financial situation: “I wish my teacher knew that we are low on money and have to go to a food bank to get food.”
Some children decided to share about their home life: “I wish my teacher knew that my dad works two jobs and I don’t see him much.”
The most heart-breaking ones were from students who didn’t feel like they fit in: “I want my teacher to know it feels like the class picks on me. I hate that.”
Other children shared their struggles: “I wish my teacher knew that even though sometimes I do not get good grades that I try. Also that I get stressed but when I come to your class I feel better.”
Some students shared their hobbies: “I want my teacher to know that I like to draw.”
It’s amazing how much you can learn from children when you give them a chance to say what they’re feeling, and you’re willing to listen.
What do you think of this assignment in school? If you were a teacher, would you ever try it with your class?