Anyone patrolling news sites and social media the past few weeks has probably come across the now viral exercise a Colorado teacher gave her students. She wanted to get to know her students better and had them write a response to go along with the phrase, “I wish my teacher knew.” Their responses were eye-opening.
Ms. Schwartz, an elementary teacher in Denver, CO has been teaching for five years and has been doing this particular exercise with students for the past two years. Last year, she shared the lesson with others with the Twitter hashtag #iwishmyteacherknew and it continues to soar in popularity today.
The responses Ms. Schwartz received from students weren’t all sunshine and rainbows. Many students painted pictures of hard lives being lived at very young ages, struggles at home, emotions all over the place, and socially not knowing who to turn to.
This seemingly "little" exercise is pure gold. It empowers children to speak the truth and to have the opportunity to have their voices heard. It empowers the teacher to take action with the information learned. As parents and educators, it’s imperative to remember the importance of working together for the good of all children. Open communication is necessary and knowing the hard truths of what a family may be going through can often times help an educator more than knowing a child’s favorite subject.
Ms. Schwartz recently published a book documenting her experience with this lesson and reiterating the truth that getting to know who you’re working with is crucial to having a successful (educational) experience. You can also find a great New York Times article on her experience here.