By Betsy L. Angert | Originally Published at
“As a new teacher, I struggled to understand the reality of my students’ lives and how to best support them. I just felt like there was something I didn’t know about my students.”
What she did not know was quite surprising to the Denver teacher and it is what most adults never realize. Students want their teacher’s to know what causes them pain, what causes them sorrow. Indeed, our young want everyone to know how they are feeling, and also how they are dealing with life situations. Given a chance our children would shout from the rooftops. Look at me. See me. Hear me! Feel what I feel and understand. I want you to know. It is not just my teacher.
In each of the three years that Kyle Schwartz asked her students to complete the simple sentence “I wish my teacher knew…” she gave them the choice. Students were given the opportunity to “answer anonymously,” to write just for her eyes, or to share with their fellow students.
“I have found that most students are not only willing to include their name, but also enjoy sharing with the class. Even when what my students are sharing is sensitive in nature, most students want their classmates to know.
After recently joining Twitter Kyle thought to share the lesson, after which she received a lot of national attention. But what about the message? Will it again be missed, dismissed, or used as a means to justify one or another adult refrain. Will people posit that this is true for children affected by poverty? After all, Schwartz teaches in a school district with a high percentage of low-income students. She is intensely aware that children in this population face greater challenges, higher stress and obstacles outside of the classroom that affect their learning.
I care deeply about each and every one of my students and I don’t want any of them to have to suffer the consequences of living in poverty, which is my main motivation for teaching.”
Teach as well as we can, and still poverty will not end. What our students want is more than a friend. They want their teachers, their preachers, their mothers and fathers to care more about them! This veracity is not unique to poor children. As we could have seen once Kyle Schwartz’s lesson went viral.
“Will my Dad be allowed back into the country?” “Will my Mom have time to spend with my sister and me?” “Will my family find the money to purchase some pencils? I want to read. I want to write. I want to go to college. Vietnamese is my language, and there are
Mom, Dad, teacher, it is not all about my dearth of money. It is not all about testing! [Each of which, by the way, you created through your obsessions.] It is about me. How I feel, how I am perceived, and not necessarily what you believe. If only you knew…You all are my teachers and I wish you knew that
“To teach is to learn twice.” ~ Joseph Joubert [Recueil des pensées de M. Joubert (Collected Thoughts of Mr. Joubert).] Please learn this lesson.
Betsy L. Angert is an Educator, a student of life. She is an Author, a believer in the need to honor human rights…not for a minute, but in every moment of our lives.