August Book of The Month—I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids

August marks National Back to School month, and in honor of that annual rite of passage, we are highlighting Kyle Schwartz’s debut work, I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids.  I Wish My Teacher Knew is a touching and enlightening exploration into the world of teaching and the profound impact that educators can have on their students’ lives. With a combination of personal anecdotes, heartfelt student responses, and insightful reflections, Schwartz offers readers a poignant look into the challenges, triumphs, and ultimate potential for transformation within the classroom.

The Question That Started A Movement

The book is centered around a simple yet powerful classroom activity initiated by Schwartz as first-year teacher in Denver, Colorado. As a third-grade teacher in a low-income school, Schwartz passed out Post-It notes and asked her students to complete the sentence “I wish my teacher knew…” The responses she received were raw, honest, and deeply moving. These small notes offered a window into the inner lives of the students, revealing their struggles, dreams, and the personal circumstances that often go unnoticed in a busy classroom environment.  Schwartz could not have known that sharing this experience on her Twitter feed would spark a movement in classrooms around the nation with thousands of educators recreating the activity with their own students and sharing their responses using #iwishmyteacherknew.  

Through her engaging narrative, Schwartz artfully weaves together her own experiences as a teacher, the stories of her students, and the educational research that supports the need for empathy and understanding in teaching. She demonstrates the potential of this simple exercise to create a bridge of connection between teachers and students, fostering an environment where students feel seen, heard, and valued.

Aimed primarily at educators and others who work with children, I Wish My Teacher Knew provides practical suggestions and resources to help adults forge a community of mutual respect and acceptance with students and their families –   ultimately creating a partnership that allows for deeper and more engaged learning.  By engaging with Schwartz’s anecdotes and suggested exercises, parents and guardians may also find that they have a better understanding of what exactly it is that teachers strive to do beyond drilling the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic.  This intentional cultivation of a brave and non-judgmental community is a crucial component of student success.

Student Flourishing

What sets this book apart is its universality. While the stories and examples provided are specific to Schwartz’s classroom, the themes are relatable to educators across diverse settings. The challenges of poverty, family dynamics, cultural differences, and the emotional needs of students are all addressed with sensitivity and insight. Schwartz reminds us that behind every student’s academic performance is a multifaceted life that shapes their experiences in the classroom.I Wish My Teacher Knew is not just a book for teachers. It is a call to action for parents, administrators, policymakers, and anyone concerned with the education system. Schwartz reminds us that education is not just about test scores and curriculum, but about nurturing the whole child. Her book encourages us to see beyond the surface and create spaces where students can flourish academically, emotionally, and socially.

Making Learning Meaningful

In a world where education is frequently reduced to numbers and statistics, I Wish My Teacher Knew offers a refreshing perspective that emphasizes the human connections that make learning meaningful. Kyle Schwartz’s profound insights and compassionate approach make this book a must-read for anyone interested in the transformative power of education. It serves as a poignant reminder that a little empathy can go a long way in making a lasting impact on the lives of young learners.

Related Readings

Find these similar books on the web and on our BookShop!

  1. The Metacognitive Student: How to Teach Academic, Social, and Emotional Intelligence in Every Content Area by  Richard K. Cohen (Author), Deanne Kildare Opatosky (Author), James Savage (Author), Susan Olsen Stevens (Author), Edward P. Darrah (Author), Maurice J. Elias (Foreword)
  2. The Future of Smart: How Our Education System Needs to Change to Help All Young People Thrive by Ulcca Joshi Hansen PhD
  3. Up to the Challenge: Teaching Resilience and Responsibility in the Classroom (An impactful resources that demonstrates how to build resilience in the classroom) by Jay Jackson
  4. Happy Teachers Change the World: A Guide for Cultivating Mindfulness in Education by  Thich Nhat Hanh (Author) Katherine Weare (Author)
  5. Today I Made a Difference: A Collection of Inspirational Stories from America’s Top Educators by Joseph W. Underwood

by Hannah Dahdouh

Hannah is a graduate student and clinical intern at The Feelings Healers.

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