I Wish My Teacher Knew

How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids

by Kyle Schwartz

Number of pages: 272

Publisher: Da Capo Press

BBB Library: Education

ISBN: 978-0738219141

About the Author

Kyle Schwartz is a third grade teacher in Denver, CO. As a young adult, she worked at the education nonprofit City Year in Washington D.C., where she painted murals, scrubbed off graffiti, and served food to the homeless. After City Year, she moved to South America to work on the program, English Opens Doors, a joint effort of the United Nations Development Fund and the Chilean Ministry of Education, which opened her eyes to how much teachers can do for their students. When Schwartz returned to the U.S., she worked as a student teacher for a year while earning a master’s degree in education from the University of Denver.


Editorial Review

One day, third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz asked her students to fill-in-the-blank in this sentence: “I wish my teacher knew _____.” The results astounded her. Some answers were humorous, others were heartbreaking-all were profoundly moving and enlightening. The results opened her eyes to the need for educators to understand the unique realities their students face in order to create an open, safe and supportive place in the classroom. When Schwartz shared her experience online, #IWishMyTeacherKnew became an immediate worldwide viral phenomenon. Schwartz’s book tells the story of #IWishMyTeacherKnew, including many students’ emotional and insightful responses, and ultimately provides an invaluable guide for teachers, parents, and communities.

Book Reviews

“In her book, Ms. Schwartz writes about mistakes that might have been prevented if she had known her students better. She had a student named Chris who was obsessed with science. Ms. Schwartz thought she had done Chris a huge favor by securing a spot for him in a science-focused summer camp. But she was unaware of the family’s financial struggles and it turned out that his parents could not afford to take time off from work to get Chris to camp.” —The New York Times

“In the book, Schwartz delves into the hard topics that teachers have to grapple with in the classroom: poverty, family troubles, food insecurity, grief and loss, and the whole gamut of human experience that is represented in an average public school classroom.” — Portland Book Review

Books on Related Topics

Wisdom to Share

When we are willing to really listen, our students might feel safe enough to express their truth.

In an age of school and teacher accountability, we are missing something if we don’t teach our students that they are the ones who need to take ownership of their own learning.

We teachers cannot spend a few minutes a day talking to our students about respect or integrity and think it is going to make a meaningful impact on them. Character education should not be merely a scheduled event; rather, character needs to be woven into every part of our school day.

Students will share their realities with us if we simply give them an invitation.

As teachers we need to ask, so that students will answer. But we also need to listen, so our students are heard.

We teachers can make a huge difference in the lives of students who are mobile. We can support our students with strategies that help them to feel welcomed and cared about.

On the most basic level, teachers can communicate better with families when they understand the different family dynamics in their classroom.

When our students struggle in school, we need to find the root of the problem, and to do this the first step is often asking an empathetic question.

Greeting the child with disappointment, hostility, or sarcasm makes the child feel they are the problem.

We must try to seek understanding and provide the necessary support, instead of automatically being punitive.

When a child is dealing with the negative spiral of grief and loss, that child is not in the best position to learn.

Every incident of death or loss is different. Therefore, every response will be equally unique.

The best teachers know intelligence and critical thinking skills are built through effort and rigorous work over long periods of time.