I Wish My Teacher Knew

How well do you know your children?

At the start of term, not very well at all unless you know children via their siblings and ‘reputations’.

When we start a new term there is a feeling that you need to get down to business immediately and make up for the summer learning loss.

But sometimes the curriculum can wait. We’ve got to get to know children and what’s going on in their lives.

One of the simplest ways of doing this is by spending time with them at lunch and sharing a meal together. You get to see them in a different context and their behaviour is often quite different.

Another way is to ask them a simple question. This is what Kyle Schwartz did one day when she asked children to fill in the blank in the following sentence:

“I wish my teacher knew__________________.”

This was like opening the floodgates and what Kyle got back astounded her. Children disclosed all manner of things, some funny and light-hearted and some just heartbreaking. It was at this point that she realised she didn’t know her children that well and they all had something to say.

This beautifully simple question amplifies children’s voices and gives them an opportunity to share something that might otherwise be hidden away and never be heard.

Children crave connection and sometimes they just need the chance to say what’s on their mind without necessarily verbalising it – sometimes writing it down is a safer way of saying it. We can overlook and forget just how complex children’s lives are.

“I wish my teacher knew________________” gives teachers unique and powerful insights and the very real opportunity to build high tensile relationships.

You can extend this idea further and use it for staff training so that senior leaders can get to know their staff more by asking “I wish my head teacher knew_____________.”

One thought on “I Wish My Teacher Knew

  • October 2, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    This is a nice topic. However, I think back to my school life, and wish I knew my teachers better. Or, I wish I WANTED to know my teachers better.

    My wife became a teacher. That alone helped me to understand what a poor student I was. It took my hearing about her students and the parents of her students, to understand that in some cases, I was each of those. This was not a good thing, as today I am still embarrassed for myself. Dad had a hard hand, and made it his mission to let the principal and teachers of mine understand that when I was out of line, that a phone call was requested. “you do what you have to at school, and send me a note or call me at home, and I will make it right at home”. It sounds worse than it actually was, but I was with Dad when he said this to teachers and staff, and it seemed as if they all knew each other too!

    It’s a bit too much like a Saturday Afternoon Special to believe that teachers can and should get into the personal lives of their students. However, My wife taught in a Montessori school, and she did make it her job to know her students and their parents. I am not a teacher. It seems impossible, as that’s a lot of people to know, and to follow through the years. I suppose, it’s a good goal after all!

    Actually, writing this piece, I remember that I wanted nothing at all to do with knowing who my teachers were. Actually, my teachers for the most part, just wanted me to do my work and behave. Imagine that! In reality, I can’t say that I would have done much different ‘then”, if I had know my teachers better. Hmmmmm.

    Teachers in my schooling were put on pedestals. They were like our pastor. (one teacher was my Pastor’s wife. One class I got a “D”, but she then changed my grade to “F” because she knew I could do better. I thought that was MEAN! However, she really cared for me.)

    I can agree that teachers should know more about their students and families. It can happen, because my wife did it.
    I would hope, that some of what the teacher knows about the student, might not be known so much by the student, so the student might grow through his mistakes. I did a lot of stupid things in school. Had any of my favorite teachers found out, and then tried to sit down and discuss my stupid things, I am sure they would no loner be my favorite. Knowing is fine, as long as there is some sort of restraint when sharing so much information with the student or parents. Nope, I did nothing criminal, but did what so many young kids do that I don’t do now, because I am a smarter individual.

    This article/concept has merit. It’s a concept that should be part of a larger action/idea.

    A good read. Thanks!


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