For the past two year I’ve been thinking about implementing “I Wish My Teacher Knew,” but I continued to put it off. I allowed other things to take priority and I assumed that my students would tell me if something was on their mind. And of course many of my students did…. but there are always going to be those students that just don’t know how to vocalize some of the things going on in their lives. This year I made it a priority and I’m never looking back.
An “I Wish My Teacher Knew” jar is an idea that’s been floating around the teacher community for years… there’s also a book written about it . It’s designed to be a system that allows students to communicate with you and tell you it there’s something on their mind…good or bad.
Introducing I Wish My Teacher Knew
Currently I teach 4th grade on a team with two other teachers. We are departmentalized, so we see each other’s students throughout the day. We decided to implement this as a grade level and speak with the students in one large group.
We started the conversation by explaining that we all have lives outside of school and many things on our mind throughout the day. Sometimes students want us to be aware of things or want to talk, but they don’t know how and/or don’t know when. We gave our students a few examples and why it’s important for us to know these things.
It’s crucial for your kids to know that you want to help them, be there for them, and to understandwhen they are having a bad day. It’s designed to keep communication open.
We also explained to the students that this does not substitute notifying us if there is an emergency. We took time to make this extra clear to our students and provided them with examples (someone is being bullied, injured, etc).
Once we fully explained this we showed students a I wish my teacher knew youtube video. This helped clear up most questions; however, we gave students the opportunity to ask any other questions they may have.
I Wish My Teacher Knew Notes
One of the most important questions I’m often asked is… “what do you do with the information that you receive?” It truly is situational. As educators we typically know what to do in a given situation. For example, some students just may want to talk or want advice. However, if I received a note that was alarming I would immediately give it to the proper personel.
This was something we also discussed with our class. We made it clear that we only want what’s best for them. We are a classroom family. This made a lot of sense to our students and they seemed to appreciate that. It’s so so so important for your students to know that you are there to help them grow. A few of our students said “It’s like your our 2nd mom!” Exactly.
Finally, we asked the students to write their names on the notes. We can’t directly help them or talk to them if they’re anonymous. However, that’s up to your discretion. 🙂
Any jar works… some people use a box... I’ve also seen people use an empty tissue box. Literally anything! My teammate found a jar at Target and I used vinyl to make a sticker. But seriously guys anything works. Just try it! Regardless of what you use. What’s more important is reaching those students! Shockingly my strongest students are the one’s that wanted to talk the most… and that’s something I truly didn’t expect.
Additional Resources for Building Classroom Community
If you are looking for additional ways to build your classroom community – check out my other blog posts on growth mindset and setting goals here.