Five years ago, a teacher at Doull Elementary School in Denver, where 90 percent of the student body qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch, found the perfect way to connect with her kids. As part of a trust-building assignment, Kyle Schwartz asked her third graders to complete the sentence, “I wish my teacher knew …”
The responses were more powerful than Schwartz ever imagined and in July, she published I Wish My Teacher Knew, which is full of handwritten notes, as well as research on child poverty. Now other educators are trying the exercise with their students.
On Friday, February 3, fifth grade teacher Elle Deal asked her kids to write a short blurb titled “‘I wish my teacher would know.” She then shared the heartbreaking statements on Facebook. “These are just a few that stuck out to me,” explained Deal in a now-viral post.
“Kid 1: ‘I wish my teacher would know, my dad is in jail and I haven’t seen him in years.' Kid 2: ‘I wish my teacher would know, I don’t always eat dinner because my mom works and I don’t know how to work the stove.’ Kid 3: ‘I wish my teacher would know my sister sleeps in the same bed as me and sometimes she wets the bed and that’s why I smell funny.' Kid 4: ‘I wish my teacher would know that I don’t always have sneakers for gym class because my brothers and I share one pair.’ Kid 5: ‘I wish my teacher would know I like coming to school because it’s quiet here, not like my house with all the yelling.’”
The eye-opening statements have been shared more than 25,000 times.
“We need to ask more questions and spend more time listening,” wrote Deal. “Let’s leave this life a little better than we found it.”
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