Over the years, thousands of students have posted with this hashtag to share important information about themselves they wished their teachers knew about them. Some of it was inspiring, like how a certain teacher impacted a student's life. Some of it was heartbreaking, like an elementary student who wrote about how his dad worked two jobs, and he didn't get to see him much.
This kind of sharing is so vital for a strong student-teacher relationship. When a teacher knows his students' dreams, talents, fears, worries, struggles, and joys, he is so much more able to reach out and guide those students through their journeys.
Of course, every good relationship is built on two-way communication, so here is my #IWishMyStudentsKnew post for 2017.
I wish my students knew that I believe every single one of them has potential to do great things in their corner of the world.
I wish my students knew that I desperately want them to be successful in all areas of their life. I care about their lives in my classroom, on the court, on the stage, in their circle of friends, and in their homelife.
I wish my students knew that I am so much more concerned about their growth as learners and humans than I am about their actual grades. I do my best to reflect grades off that belief, but it may not always seem that way. A student who goes from a D-average to a C-average has grown more than a student that hovers at a B-average. If we are all getting a little better every day, we can make great strides!
I wish my students knew they were safe when they came into my room. It doesn't matter the race, religion, nationality, philosophy, ideology, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability level, or interests: they are safe to be themselves in my room. I do not tolerate bullies, hate, or mean-spirited words or actions. I want students to feel safe enough to try new and difficult things and to take risks. I want them to feel safe enough to fail without getting discouraged, knowing that I will be there to guide them.
I wish my students knew that on average, I spend anywhere between 50-70 hours a week at school. Teaching isn't a job, but rather a lifestyle. It takes hours to plan and prepare units that are worthwhile for my students. It takes an incredible amount of time and effort to assess and evaluate student learning and make adjustments to my teaching. It takes forever to stage a theatrical production. But I do this because my students are worth that amount of effort.
I wish my students knew I'm a fallible, imperfect human. I over think things. I doubt myself. I stress myself out and get anxiety over what I'm doing (or not doing). I feel overwhelmed often. I get angry at myself when things don't turn out the way they were supposed to. I feel inadequate. But I'm learning that anxiety isn't something that's mastered, it's just something that must be endured until it's passed.
I wish my students knew that I will fight the good fight for them. Whether it is speaking out to make sure our state supports public education or defending them to other students or adults, I am in their corner.
I wish my students knew their generation isn't nearly as bad as older generations make it out to be. (Granted, your generation is killing dryer sheets, among other things; but all in all, I don't think that's all that bad.) You're growing up in a time that is so vastly different than any other generation, and we have no frame of reference for what you're dealing with. Millennials are accomplishing a great many things, and it's the students I have worked with the last eight years that give me hope for the future.
I wish my students knew I plan to push them very hard while they are in my classroom, on the stage, or in the journalism lab. It's not because I want to be mean or make them feel like they aren't good enough, but it's because there is a lot riding on their shoulders. Our culture and our globe are a hot mess. While a great many good things have come about thanks to older generations, a great many things have been fouled up, too. It will be the intelligence, the compassion, the empathy, the ambition and the concern of this generation that will bring us back from the brink. (No pressure.)
I wish my students knew that I am incredibly excited to be their teacher, and I hope that in some small way, I will be able to impact them toward a greater good.