Inspired by #iwishmyteacherknew, we asked our students to tell us what they wish we knew about them (and in general). We started by asking them what was on their minds now that they are back at school, and then asked them how they are different at school versus at home. These prompts set them up to share insights with us that could help us know and support them as the complex humans they are. Specifically, we asked if there was anything they wished we knew or anything they wanted to share with us. We also asked how to best motivate them or help them if they are feeling stuck. We were impressed with the depth of thought our students revealed in their answers. Many adults won’t be able to tell you what motivates them or helps them when they are feeling stuck (or will give you a cynical answer that doesn’t really help in the moment), as it requires a lot of self awareness and reflection.
Some of our students wrote about how home felt versus school, and shared that they enjoy the predictability and clarity of school. Others shared about feeling like they don’t get enough attention, or being nervous about events in the world or events in their lives. One of our favorites was a student who said he was, “bored at home because I like learning.” We will remind him that he can read, write, think, and investigate at home too!
Other students shared troubles at home, some with more detail than others. These troubles might range from a less than kind older sibling to discord or stress at home. One student said he wished we knew about some things happening at home, but they were (sic) “PRIVET” so he couldn’t share with us. Another student wrote about often feeling excluded or left out among friends. Yet another wrote about the death of a family member. Even without a lot of details, context, or background, knowing that students are dealing with something heavy at home helps us understand better what they bring with them when they come to school everyday.
We are grateful to our students for giving us more context into who they are. We will of course develop a nuanced sense of how to best challenge and support our new crew of learners as the school year continues. Nevertheless, this one survey has given us plenty of food for thought and a level of connection with one another that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to have at this point in the year. Here’s to starting this year by learning about our students by hearing from them!