I wish my students knew …

I’m sure you’ve heard of it unless you’ve been hiding in your classroom, overwhelmed.  Teacher Kyle Schwartz asked her students to finish the sentence,

“I wish my teacher knew ……”

The answers are heart wrenching and more important than just what they reveal about their challenging lives, they also provide students with a powerful voice and means of empowerment. Schwartz makes that point and it’s one of the reasons she also shared the student messages as tweets.

Here’s a video detailing the whole story.

The story got me thinking about the converse, what do we teachers wish our students knew about our own lives?

Every teacher has a different style and level of what they’ll share with students about their own lives. That’s fine and I understand that. However, I don’t think teachers really “voice” to the world enough about their own challenging lives and how teaching is tough, damn tough.  Perhaps I’m thinking about this issue because along with this story, read a gut wrenching post from Vicki Davis about her own current struggles as a teacher.  She speaks of things we teachers seldom share and it illustrates so well how every one of us teachers has things we wish our students knew.

I remember teaching 2 classes mid day after learning during the break by telegram to the school that my grandmother had died.  I wish my students had known that and also I had been brave enough to share that.

I remember teaching grade 4, loving my students to death. Coming in at 6:30 am every day to prepare and leaving after long talks with the janitor at 8 or 9 pm. Then weekends, lying on the couch immobile all day, unable to move, shell shocked from that week. I wish my students had known that.

I remember teaching the same 4 core course classes in a row on Mondays, no break and wishing my students knew I felt numb and like a tape recorder. I wish they knew I had to do it, lacking seniority and any power.

There is a lot we teachers wish our students knew.  My own sister recently stopped teaching. I wish her students knew the reason why, the challenges as a mother she was facing day in and day out while trying to teach.

So my question to fellow teachers – share and complete the sentence,

I wish my students knew …..

Give yourself voice and let the world know, that big world outside of teaching, how incredibly hard it is to do both that in class and that out of class.  You can tweet them with the hashtag – #IWishMyStudentsKnew.

Also, see these cards that you can use to do this activity with your own students.

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