Starting the School Year with #IWishMyTeacherKnew

Monday, September 14, 20154:55 PM

Last spring, the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew went viral. A Denver elementary school teacher, Kyle Schwartz, simply asked her students what they wished their teachers knew, and the results were powerful. She called it a “reality check” with her students, providing insight into the challenges they face in and out of the classroom. You can find more by searching the Twitter Hashtag or in articles at USA Today and PBS News, among others. 

I noticed the hashtag when it started, but in the end of the year spring craze, it’s power didn’t stick with me yet. Over the summer, I saw someone Tweet about the idea again, encouraging teachers to start the year with #IWishMyTeacherKnew. I then went back and looked at the Tweets from Kyle and from others, and the idea has stuck with me since.

So that’s what I did. I always give students a survey to get information about their interests, past experiences in school, etc., but this year I added one essential question: I Wish My Teacher Knew...

And here is some of what they said:

  • I write slowly and i need time to take notes
  • I try to try my best
  • Sometimes I can be shy but sometimes I can be very outgoing. I have a kind of changing personality.
  • They can click "Allow" for the popup to go away at the top of the screen when watching videos in fullscreen
  • I sometimes need extra time to complete tests and assignments
  • I re-read the same book over and over again.
  • i don't like it when teacher r make me get a pass even if im 1 mintue late
  • I don't speak much in class.
  • i lose focus easily
  • Im not the the fastest reader or writer.
  • One thing i wish my teacher knew is that sometimes I get too overwhelm, stress out that i get frustrated.
  • im not really good essays, i honestly dont read books outside of school so sometimes i tend to slack on that.
  • I am not the best test taker.
  • I absorb information very quickly but I am very bad at just memorizing vocabulary.
  • I need help structuring my sentences and replacing everyday words with big fancy words.
  • That I love working with my friends and that when I work with them the assignments actually get done.
  • My essays never truly express my train of thought, and my opinions.
  • I don't like celebrating my birthday. 
  • I don't have a phone
  • I can sometimes be easily distracted if the class becomes too much fun
  • I can get a bit out of task sometimes I'm a very hyper kid. Try and challenge me to do my best work.
  • I am also NOT just a mini-version of my brother.
  • I try to do good in my classes.
  • I play a lot of sports and i am very busy 

The responses ranged from obvious and simple to surprising and deep. And some were funny. Most were honest. I almost changed my mind about this post and resisted the urge to share students’ responses as there was something private to it. With anonymity, though, I decided the power of #IWishMyTeacherKnew was worth sharing, if only to inspire other teachers to ask the question, too. Now I know more than I did before, and I won’t forget it.

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