If you’re a teacher, you understand that your students are your kids. We don’t mean their mothers or fathers are any less of their parents, but you’re with those kids all day, every day, and you really grow to care about them. So when you learn some heartbreaking things about their lives, it can be really hard to take in.
One teacher named Kyle Schwartz recently assigned her third grade students an assignment to get to know them better—and it made them open up to her in a totally unexpected way. The assignment was simple: Write a sentence that begins with the phrase, “I wish my teacher knew…”
“As a new teacher, I struggled to understand the reality of my students’ lives and how to best support them,” said Kyle. “I just felt like there was something I didn’t know about my students.”
Not only did it help Kyle learn new things about them, the students really enjoyed the assignment. In fact, they even had the option to make their letters anonymous, but most of them decided to include their name.
“Even when what my students are sharing is sensitive in nature, most students want their classmates to know,” said Kyle.
The assignment has become so popular that teachers all around the world are motivated to assign the same thing to their students. And all of their answers are just as insightful, and really help you learn so much about the child.
Since the first time Kyle has created this assignment, she’s since published a book entitled, “I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything For Our Kids,” which is filled with all kinds of responses from her students.
It’s truly crazy one just one sentence prompt can tell you. Answers varied from parent situations to just sharing the things they like. Most of them elicited a pretty bittersweet response though. Here are just a few of the answers Kyle and other teachers received with the assignment:
They learned about the 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 how life is at home: “I wish my teacher knew that my dad works two jobs and I don’t see him much.”
Teachers learned that some students don’t feel like they belong: “I want my teacher to know it feels like the class picks on me. I hate that.”
Some children wanted to open up about their struggles in school: “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 just simply wanted to share their hobbies and interests: “I want my teacher to know that I like to draw.”
You get the drift. It’s amazing what you can learn about children this way. The point that we can all learn from this simple assignment is that children just want someone to listen, and they’ll open up when prompted.
For more examples of what students jotted down, check out the video below.
What do you think of this assignment in school? Would you ever try it out with your child, or, if you’re a teacher, in a classroom?