This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

It all began last year as a way for 3rd-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz to get to know her students a little better.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“As a new teacher, I struggled to understand the reality of my students’ lives and how to best support them,” she said. “I just felt like there was something I didn’t know about my students.”

Schwartz works at Denver’s Doull Elementary, where many students come from underprivileged backgrounds with 92% qualifying for a free or reduced lunch.

So she developed a class project called “I Wish My Teacher Knew,” inviting her students to finish the sentence with an anonymous confession.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“I wish my teacher knew I don’t have friend to play with me.”

The results were surprising and sometimes heartbreakingly honest.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

I wish my teacher knew sometimes my reading log is not signed because my mom is not around a lot.”

Her findings were shared widely on the Internet and the Twitter hashtag “#iwishmyteacherknew” went viral as other teachers followed suit and asked their students the same question before sharing the results with Kyle.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“I wish my teacher knew I don’t have pencils at home to do my homework.”

It took off so much that she published a book, I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything For Our Kids, in which Schwartz details how essential it is for teachers and families to be partners.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“I wish my teacher knew my mom might get diagnosed with cancer this week and I’ve been without a home three different times this year alone.”

“I really want families to know how intentional teachers are about creating a sense of community and creating relationships with kids,” Schwartz said. “Kids don’t learn when they don’t feel safe or valued.”

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“I wish my teacher knew that I don’t like it when she notices that other students are on task but when I’m on task she doesn’t notice me.”

Here are a few more of the notes that inspired the book.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“I wish my teacher knew how to do a backflip.”

They’re determined.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“I have arthritis (juvenile) and sometimes I can’t do everything like the other kids. Anyways, I tend to not let that stop me from things.”

But they don’t always have a stable situation.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“I wish my teacher knew that my mom got divorced three times.”

They worry.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“I wish my teacher knew that my little brother gets scared and I get worried about getting up every night.”

They’re funny.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“I wish my teacher knew my brother is sleeping so hard that he is breathing to (sic) hard and loud that I cannot sleep.”

They have big dreams.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“I wish my teacher knew that I love animals and I would do anything for my animals. I would love to work at the MSPCA so I could help animals get adopted.”

It’s hard, but they try.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“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.” 

They make it all worthwhile.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

“I wish my teacher knew that I’m very proud of her because she never gives up on us and keeps on being a great teacher and I appreciate that. Thank you.”

“I think it caught on so fast because teachers are highly collaborative and freely share and explore resources,” Schwartz said.

This Teacher Asked Students a Simple Question and the Answers Were Completely Unexpected

In the end, all teachers want to support their students,” she continued, “and #iwishmyteacherknew is a simple and powerful way to do that.”

For more information on the book, be sure to check out the website.

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