Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I Wish My Teacher Knew

A few years ago, a young student told me his family was moving. I was sad to hear the news. I was going to miss his charming and somewhat mischievous personality. I contacted his mom and she explained they were moving to be closer to her family. Our school secretary gathered records to go with them and contacted the school to let them know the family was coming.

A couple of months later we got a call from a school in a different town, where my student had just enrolled. This town was about half way to their target destination and when our secretary registered surprise, the person on the other end of the line explained, “They got a flat tire.”

A flat tire—so they didn’t make it to the town where they’d have family support and they didn’t make it to any school for a couple of months. It is hard to imagine how a flat tire could determine such important decisions, like where you will live, and where your children will receive an education, but for some people, a flat tire is much more than an inconvenience.

I tell this story because we don’t always know the challenges a student faces in life and how competent their parents are in guiding them through it.

We all need this reminder occasionally and Kyle Schwartz, in her book, I WISH MY TEACHER KNEW, does this brilliantly. 

Her book was inspired by a simple classroom assignment she uses each year. She passes out Post-it notes to her students and has them complete the sentence, "I wish my teacher knew . . ."

Take a look at some of their responses:

“I wish my teacher knew that I’ve lived a hard life and I try my hardest and best to remain positive every second of the day.”

“ I wish my teacher knew that I hated to go back to the shelter every night and it was difficult to pay attention in class.”

“to not pressure kids when they don’t know what’s going on at home.”

Ms. Schwartz uses these notes as a springboard for an in-depth look at how teachers can provide support to all of their students and create a positive school culture. I know I will put some of her suggestions into practice when school starts in the fall. Her tools could be as effective as making sure every family has a sturdy car jack and a spare tire in their trunk.

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