One day, third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz asked her students to fill–in–the–blank in this sentence: “I wish my teacher knew _____.” The results astounded her. Some answers were humorous, others were heartbreaking–all were profoundly moving and enlightening. The results opened her eyes to the need for educators to understand the unique realities their students face in order to create an open, safe and supportive place in the classroom. When Schwartz shared her experience online, #IWishMyTeacherKnew became an immediate worldwide viral phenomenon. Schwartz’s book tells the story of #IWishMyTeacherKnew, including many students’ emotional and insightful responses, and ultimately provides an invaluable guide for teachers, parents, and communities. (via Goodreads)

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index card illustration saying I wish my teacher knew... with a fern doodle on the right.

I first heard about Schwartz’s project when news reports first came out with the heart breaking images of what her students’ had written. It inspired me to learn more about my college’s local school system, and to write about it for my final journalism project at WCU. You can read it here, if you want to. The results that I found in Jackson County, North Carolina were similar to what Schwartz found in Colorado, so when I saw this as an ARC on Netgalley, I knew that I had to read it.

Every child deserves an excellent education. Every child deserves to feel cared about and heard.

You wouldn’t think that this statement would be something that truly needed to be said, because of course everyone deserves that, but it does need to be said for so many children. So many children need help and don’t know how to ask for it. Teachers, whether families like it or not, are a huge part of children’s lives, and thus need to be prepared to deal with whatever their students are dealing with. Poverty is one of those things that shows itself in so many ways in a student’s life.

Our governments, our school districts, and the public need to know what it is really like to be a student living in poverty, so they can enact policies and deliver services that support our students. This is not something over and above the scope of our duty as educators. It is our duty.

Schwartz went through a variety of topics, from food insecurity to helping to deal with grief to student engagement to treating all students equally, giving her perspective on how things should be changed, how they can be done better based on research and sociological theory.

I highly recommend this for anyone who is teaching younger students, or planning to go into teaching younger children. I rated this book five stars, because it is easily written to be accessible for teachers anywhere, with options for anyone to use it in their own classroom. It’s a beautiful book, that has the ability to make great changes in the lives of so many children. I’ll be buying a copy of this for some of my teaching friends, because it’s something that they should have in their arsenal to help their students.

Five stars

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