When I was in elementary school people would always tell me they could see me as a teacher. Mostly math since I was good at it and already helped nearly half my class when they needed. Because of all these comments I thought, yeah sure why not? My career forms were filled with ‘teacher’ as my plan and it wasn’t until later on that I ended up changing my goals.
Still even though I’m no longer trying to be a teacher, I have worked with kids and even have a kid brother, and checking out this book took me down memory lane and gave me a new perspective on things.
I wish my teacher knew is a nonfiction book by Kyle Schwartz, a third grade teacher who one day did a project called ‘I wish my teacher knew’ where she let her students finish the sentence. Taking the responses of her students, she compiled a bit of a guide of how to approach certain situations that one may come across when teaching.
The book is mainly split up into two parts: the stories of teachers and students, and the advice and stats given by the author. The stories are very personal and very sad (I legit teared up at some of the things the kids wrote). For some reason I’m always moved by what kids say because their perspective is interesting and raw, especially when it’s concerning topics of war, poverty, discrimination, and other ‘adult themes’
When reading these stories, I was reminded of the idea that kids should be protected from ‘adult themes’ without really realizing they are already taking part in this ‘adult world’ and struggling, sometimes without saying anything. For example, the book mentions Brandon, a kid who had ‘behavior issues’ and was constantly sent to the principal’s office. However, it wasn’t until the nurse talked to him that staff realized his behavior was tied to not eating breakfast (and sometimes even dinner) because his family was poor.
It also goes over simple things we might not even think of, such as making sure students feel welcome on their first day of class. Or that they feel like they’re contributing to their class and helping their peers.
I felt these stories were some of the strongest moments of this book because we could see these responses that kids wrote on index cards (they were scanned into the book). They were things many could relate to.
On the other hand, the book goes into so many facts about issues of poverty, veterans, mobility (and more), that those stories sometimes take a back seat to all this information. Sometimes the author combined these things in a way that they coexisted, and sometimes it was very methodical: start with a story, throw facts at reader, repeat.
Maybe if this had been presented a bit different I would have liked it more, like cutting some of the info since there is a works cited or just finding a way to reference back to some of the stories a bit more (the book does this already but in some chapters the stories become lost)
I also wasn’t a big fan of the layout of the book, which was more apparent in ebook format. There were many times where we got black boxes where teachers and students would talk about their experience and it just cut the flow of the section I was reading. I felt they could have been better placed (like maybe at the start of each chapter). As an ebook, it was even more frustrating because I had to flip back to the faded text after reading the actual chapter.
This book can be found on Amazon for $13.31 right now as a hardcover, regular price is $19.99. Or in ebook format for $13.99