Ms. Schwartz, a third grade teacher from Colorado, asked her students to fill in the blank. I wish my teacher knew ____. The answers, and therefore her understanding of her students, transformed her life as a teacher. After sharing her experiences on social media, teachers all over the world tried the exercise with astounding results. Some students’ answers are shared throughout the book as well as insights from teachers. Most of the book, however, is focused on how to create a community within the classroom and school and how to best help students who are struggling with personal challenges such as poverty, hunger, grief, and more.
As someone who wanted to be a teacher since she was 5, I read about this book in an article and couldn’t wait to read it. It was very interesting and really emphasized the important role teachers play in students’ lives. I felt that old pang of regret for changing my career path and never being a teacher. Teachers have a HARD job. I think many people fail to appreciate what an emotional bond teachers form with their students and how teachers care about students as people beyond (just?!) teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic.
I wish the book would have had more of the students’ responses to the question. There was one per chapter, but I got the impression that the book would be filled with them, Post Secret-style. I also felt that sometimes the author was really touting all the great things she has done for her students. (Don’t get me wrong- She seems like a wonderful teacher.) Sometimes it gave me that panicked feeling that the world is a horrible place and there is little I can do to help. However, it also gave concrete suggestions for helping children feel included and safe. This book is definitely worth reading, especially if you are a teacher or work with children.
3 out of 5 stars