The I Wish My Teacher Knew strategy is a resource containing the tools teachers need to build a strong foundation for the classroom. It supports teachers to connect with their students on a personal level. When students feel known by their teachers, they are more likely to feel authentically connected to the learning community. Ideally, this strategy would be used in the beginning, middle and end of the school year to begin and maintain a meaningful connection with students.
Provide students with the opportunity to share what they wish you knew with you by giving them the following prompt to respond to in writing:
"I wish my teacher knew...."
If it helps, let students know that their submissions can be anonymous.
Consider writing and sharing what you wish your teachers knew about you when you were in the grade(s) you teach as a way of modeling for and connecting with your students.
You can also extend the lesson to have students share what they wish their classmates knew.
Use the BetterLesson Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning (CRTL) Lesson Plan Template linked in the resource section below to customize your own What Kids Wish Their Teachers Knew lesson plan in a way that is responsive to the needs of your learners.
Make the "I Wish My Teacher Knew" a regular practice in your classroom. Consider creating a "I Need My Teacher to Know" jar (like the photo below) in your classroom in which students can place notes to you about their feelings and experiences that they feel you need to know.
Watch the Facundo the Great short film (linked in the resources section below), read the To Say the Name is to Begin the Story article, and/or view the Why Uzo Aduba Would Never Change Her Name video linked below to build background knowledge about the activity.
Provide students with an opportunity to share their name stories with you and others. Consider sharing your name story with your students as a way of modeling for and connecting with your students.
In a distance setting, there is greater challenge to creating strong personal connections with students. Using I Wish My Teacher Knew in a distance setting creates a space for relationships and belonging in a distance learning community.
Select a tool where students can share their response to I Wish My Teacher Knew. If you already have a check in or feedback system, consider using this same tool.
In Google Forms, teachers can choose to require the question and whether or not they want the responses to be anonymous. Use the short answer or paragraph option depending on the length or response you are expecting from students.
Voxer creates the opportunity for students to respond through text or by recording their response. This can be sent to the teacher directly.
Flipgrid can house all student responses on one grid. If discretion is desired, the teacher can create one grid per student that only the teacher can access and respond to. This creates a rich opportunity for sharing between student and teacher in a central location.
Padlet in Shelf mode can be enabled for students and teachers to respond through both video and audio. Anonymity is an option in this format. Similar to Flipgrid, private Padlets can be created for each student, restricting access to only the teacher.
Establish a schedule or cadence for using the strategy. Some examples are:
Every Monday, in order to establish a strong start to the week and share any important information from the weekend.
Every Friday, as a part of weekly reflection.
When returning from a break in learning, in order to re engage and reestablish connections with students.
At the conclusion of a unit or key moment of instruction as a part of self-reflection and assessment.
Set the purpose with students if this is the first time implementing this strategy. In a synchronous setting, share with students that they are loved and important, which is why this is an opportunity to share something that may not feel comfortable saying aloud or in a group.
To modify this for an asynchronous setting, the teacher may record themselves with Loom where they express the importance of each student as a part of the learning community.
Share the links to the Google Form, Padlet, or Flipgrid with students or send out the "I Wish My Teacher Knew..." prompt through Voxer.
As a teacher, it would be beneficial to monitor and track responses from students, in order to enrich future conversations and establish strong connections with students. A Google Sheet with each student as a separate sheet can be created from Google Form responses. Similarly, a separate Google Doc can be created for each student where information can be noted.
Personalizing instruction through getting to know you activities is a foundational tool teachers can use to better support all students with disabilities to become more engaged participants in their learning. In order to plan effectively to use getting to know you activities to support students with disabilities teachers should consider the following modifications:
Use visual timers and verbal reminders for each part of a getting to know you activity to help students with task initiation and task completion.
Teachers should think carefully about the approach of quality over quantity when helping students with disabilities share information with them and their peers. For example, a teacher could ask students to only share out three rather than five facts about themselves in order for students with disabilities to have more time to process information.
This strategy provides an excellent opportunity for teachers to learn more about the diverse backgrounds and experiences of English learners. Teachers are afforded the opportunity to develop a strong learning community that is anchored in a strong understanding of where students are coming from.
English learners need to listen to teacher explanations, read questions, and model responses and write their own responses while engaging in this activity. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:
When you were a student in the grade(s) you now teach, how well were you known by your teachers? What difference did it make for you as a learner?
Addressing Identity Standards empowers educators to explore how identity is developed and how it shapes interactions with students. There are opportunities to learn, go deeper, apply and reflect on learnings.
Explore the "My Name" lesson by 8th grade ELA BetterLesson Master Teacher, Julianne Beebe, to see how her students write a "My Name" poem while reading The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.
Explore the "Welcome to Biology Class! Getting to Know Each Other Through Poetry" lesson by 9th grade Biology BetterLesson Master Teacher, Maria Laws to see how her students develop "Where I'm From" poems in the beginning of the school year.
Explore the "Where I'm From: Introducing Students to Poetry of Place with Copy Change" lesson by 12th grade ELA BetterLesson Master Teacher Glenda Funk to see how her students write "Where I'm From" poems.
Explore the "It's Opening Day in 8th Grade" lesson by 8th grade BetterLesson Science Master Teacher Lori Knasiak to see her "Who Am I?" graphic organizer.