A simple one-sentence writing assignment set by third grade teacher Kyle Schwartz revealed the heartbreaking realities faced by her young students. Kyle, a Denver, Colorado Public Schools “Distinguished Teacher”, shares what she has learned from her students and offers educators ideas and strategies towards supporting their students academically and emotionally.
Elementary School Teacher
The driving force in Kyle Schwartz’ career has been to ensure that all children receive a quality education. Kyle is currently a third grade teacher at Doull Elementary School in Denver, Colorado where approximately 90% of the students live below or very near the poverty line and about half are learning English at school.
She has previously worked with educational organizations such as City Year, the Denver Teacher Residency, American Achieves and
TeachStrong. Designated a “Distinguished Teacher” by Denver Public Schools, Kyle has transformed a simple yet powerful classroom writing lesson into a national dialogue about the troubling realities American students face on a daily basis. Her book “I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for our Kids” offers teachers guidance towards providing the educational opportunities, loving support and guidance that all students need and deserve.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx
You know what I wish my classmates would think about the others in their classes, one thing that I think about a lot is storming out of class, I wish my classmates would think about the people around them. I have broken down into tears because of them and their rudeness and their failure to think about their classmates
I wish my teacher knew.. I forgot what it's like to wake up in the morning without being scared to open my eyes and live...
I wish my teacher knew... I cry evry night because of them
I wish my techer knew.. I miss my dad... and he'll never be back..
I wish my teacher knew I'm scared of becoming nothing
I wish my teacher knew that... I dont have a dream anymore.
I know this isn’t what I wish my teacher knew but I have my own one:
I wish my ‘friends’ know what depression feels like. They all make jokes about having it. And they joke about self harming bit none of them do because I see them changing floor gym class. They don’t see that I never change in front of them and I never wear shot sleeves and when they joke about it I go really quiet. They don’t realise that I miss so many days of school because I can’t handle seeing anyone or do anything. I’m not strong enough to put on a brave face so I just stay in my bed. I wish they knew what it was like to actually feel that pain not just joking about it...
I wish my teacher knew that school is preparing me for the past, not the future.
I wish my teacher knew I feel like I don’t have a voice in school
We talk and they tell us to stop, get creative and they tell us to stop. It’s just study, test, forget, repeat, then study, test, forget it and then repeat. Teach us something real, that will leave a positive impact. They don’t work to create a relationship with students and then wonder why we don’t report bullying to them, then don’t understand why my generation is depressed and why suicide rates in teens is so high. All this then we have social pressures, and having to worry about the next school shooting and make us wonder if that will be us next. We have to think about the polluted, angry, chaotic world that has been left behind for us to fix, and theyre still teaching us about math I can do on my phone or what happened in ancient China.
I wish my teacher knew that I don't sleep well and haven't slept well in months.
I wish my teacher knew that I can't focus in class and struggle to pay attention, especially when I'm overtired and not interested in the subject.
I wish my teacher knew that there is more to life than just cramming information into our heads.
I wish my teacher knew that I struggle with depression and anxiety and that yelling at the class or telling me to focus is a big trigger because for my entire life I've been told that failure is the worst possible thing to go through in school and that I can't make mistakes.
I wish my teacher knew that I would learn better if I were allowed to stand up in class, because moving around helps me focus better.
I wish my teacher knew that there are a lot of other ways that people can learn.
I wish my teacher knew that I don't like being yelled at for being late to class.
I wish my teacher knew that I'm human and can't operate constantly 7 hours during the school day with many hours of homework, it gives me almost no time to do and find things that I enjoy and keeps me from exploring careers that I could take or hobbies I could have.
I wish my teacher knew that I'm not perfect..
I wish my teacher knew that i had chronic anxiety
I wish that they knew that yes i get straight A's but ive become apathetic with my peers
I wish that they knew that i sometimes can not physically mentally or emotionally deal with people because i have imsomnia
I wish they knew that ihad serious doubts on whether or not i had schizophrenia because i had both auditory and visual hallucinations
And no i am not exaggerating ANY of these points
I wish my teacher knew that some kids don’t love being in the spotlight every time they do something good.
Or be told that they’re the best in front of the WHOLE CLASS.
I wish every teacher knew that a lot of kids can actually have something called ‘envy’ and can feel that they’re being compared, and that the only thing they can do about it is insulate the one they’re being compared to, and they do it.
I wish my teacher knew that when I say I don't have any interests to share with the class I MEAN IT.I know you guys think that teenagers cant have real problems like adults can but that, that, is 100% NOT true. When I say I don't have any interests its because of my depression.
I wish my teacher knew that its not so easy to go home and do 1 hour of homework each night when 2 other teachers have also said the same thing, PLUS the 3 other assignments you have due in other classes.
I wish my teacher knew that going home and trying to work in the little time you have. you go to sleep at 8 so that's 5 hours we have after school alone. Most kids have an after school activity, hobby, sport and something that makes them happy so we would do that for about 2 hours a day. Now we have 3 hours, half an hour is spend on dinner the other half on the trip home OR the time it takes to get organized for the next day of school/changed. Now we have 2 hours, we like to spend our time SOCIALIZING, YEAH I KNOW, I REAL SHOCKER. We socialize for an 1hr minimum with friends and or family. That leaves us with half an hour to get changed and ready for bed and HALF AN HOUR TO CRAM IN THE 3 HOURS OF HOMEWORK. We need to do all of this so we are happy and healthy, homework is not something we need to survive.
I wish my teacher knew that when I say I need the toilet as a moody teenage girl and you deny that right to me..... YOU just denied the rights of every woman on this planet. -.- Girls will know what I mean.
I wish my teacher knew that when I don't know the answer to something my hand is DOWN ad when I do, OH LOOK, ITS UP IN THE AIR.
I WISH MY TEACHER KNEW THAT I CANT JUST HAVE A POSITIVE SELF IMAGE BY JUST BEING CONFIDENT AND KIND. WHERE THE HECK DID THAT COME FROM.
I wish my teacher knew that i'm not everything they want me to be, despite their efforts. IM NOT PERFECT. AND I AM FINALLY PROUD THAT IM NOT PERFECT. And when you tell me ill never make it in life because I failed my science test, guess where that self-esteem goes. YEP, PLOOP, RIGHT DOWN THE TOILET.
I wish my teacher knew that I’m not lazy, I just don’t have the energy to do the homework
I wish my teacher knew that I wasn’t overreacting when I said I couldn’t do something
I wish my teacher knew that mental disorders aren’t something that is a joke and can’t actually happen to people
I wish my teacher knew that I normally cry myself to sleep if I can even fall asleep
I wish my teacher knew that if I say I lost or forgot something, it’s the truth
I wish my teacher knew that the only reason I care about my grades is because I will hate myself if I don’t do good work and my parents will make me do it over and over again until I do
I wish my teacher knew that I don’t want to eat, no matter what they tell me
I wish my teacher knew that I’m not going to suddenly not hate myself if they say “depression isn’t real, you’re imagining it or making it up”
I wish my teacher helped me when I looked at her begging to make them go away.
But she didn't. She just watched. She didn't care. They don't care.
Teachers say we can speak, ask, but they make us shut up, they blame us for not living 20, 30 years as much as them.
They DON'T Care.
How many paragraphs have I written about how teachers can change the world by helping the students, how they told me.. yet they LIE.
I wish my teacher knew I started self harming to cope with all the stress.
I wish my teacher knew I'm really clumsy so my work isn't always gonna be perfectly neat.
I wish my teacher knew it's not always as simple as not leaving my pencils at my dad's or not forgetting about homework.
I wish my teacher knew these past few months have been the worst of my life.
I wish my teacher knew I tried to kill myself in the school bathrooms once.
I wish my teacher knew I don't have the attention span to sit at a desk for 7 hours a day and that's part of the reason I'm always in trouble at school.
I wish my Teacher knew...
- that every time she yelled it gave me migraines
- that I don't understand
- that one time she said I "Got lucky" on a really important test... hurt me up inside for weeks
- that I do study
- why I draw and Hum during class
- why I don't volunteer to answer questions
- that I don't hate them
I wish my teacher knew i'm insecure so she doesn't tell the whole class I forgot to turn in my homework.
I wish my teacher knew I'm not a born expert.
I wish my teacher knew I have depression.
I wish my teacher knew I want to die.
I wish my teacher knew to stay in her business and not make fun of me and my friends because of who we like.
I wish my teacher knew i'm not great at the subject she teaches.
I wish my teacher knew I don't like the subject she teaches.
I wish my teacher knew
that I don't like her.
I wish my teachers would know that I am not the same in school as I am at home
I wish my teachers would know that giving tests all the time isn't going to help my math it is just going to stress me oit when you say is I passed or not in front of the class
I wish my teachers would know that school isn't the most importante thing in my life right now (my teacher actuly said that)
I wish my teachers would know that I hate mondays because i need to go to school to probbably get told that I need to practice more
I wish my teachers wouldend be supprised when I do something good (We had a artweek in our school and there was a option for hip hop, so I went for that one and all the teachers that were there were shocked at what there students were doing, they were shocked that we had energy that we had a difrent emotion (happines and joy) than beeing tired all the time.
I wish my teachers would know that putting me in a group with people that I don't like isn't going to help me work with people in the future, the thing that is going to happen is that there will be no talking one of the students makes the presentation and the lesson before they need to present they say which line they say and thats it
I wish my teachers would know that I am not going to be a sientist so don't be dissapointed when I can't do something that I am not even going to use
I wish my teachers knew I have a terrible anxiety disorder that causes me to fear failure to the point of thinking that getting a zero and not turning my work in is better than getting that one question wrong
I'm no longer in high school but when I was, I wished my teachers knew I was suicidal. That I was self harming every day. That I had an eating disorder. That I couldn't care less about doing well anymore because I was just trying to survive.
I wish my teacher knew that when she yells at me,then gives me detention and acts like the world is over because I forgot my notebook that there are bigger problems in my world and hers. I wish my teacher knew that I forgot my homework not because I’m an irresponsible student,but because I cried myself self to sleep hoping I would never wake up at 3am the night before.
I wish my teachers knew that just because I don’t raise my hand in class, doesn’t mean I don’t know the answer.
I wish my teachers knew that just because I’m not the best at communicating my ideas doesn’t mean I don’t have them.
I wish my teachers knew that I don’t want to work in groups because I literally can’t coupe with the anxiety involved with working with people I don’t really know.
I wish my teachers knew that I am afraid to ask questions in class out of fear of being judged.
I wish my teachers knew that just sometimes there is too much is going on in my brain and I can’t do work.
I wish my teachers knew that walking into the locker area petrifies me as seeing other people gives me so much anxiety because I am so afraid that they are judging me or that I’m different.
I wish my teachers knew that just because I don’t have close friends in my class, doesn’t mean that I don’t have friends.
I wish my teachers knew that I want them to give me opportunities to demonstrate my knowledge because a lot of the time I don’t get the chance to use the things I know.
I wish my teachers knew that most of the time I am scared of speaking with them and sometimes even looking at them but it doesn’t mean I don’t like them as my teachers, it’s just that I get so much anxiety when with people.
I wish my teachers knew that just because I don’t excel in a certain area, doesn’t mean I don’t know the content well, I may just mean that I am not interested in it.
I wish my teachers knew that just because I got a bad result on one test, doesn’t mean that I am not smart or don’t know what I am doing, I was probably just having a bad day.
I wish my teachers knew how much their feedback and comments effects me and how much I value their opinion.
I wish my teachers knew that I am a completely different person when I am with my family and my extended family.
I wish my teachers knew how much little things can effect me.
I wish my teachers knew that the reason I don’t get along with other people in my class is because I don’t want to associate with them or I am simply just afraid of them and I don’t want my teachers thinking that I am alone in class and I don’t want them to try and get me to work with others.
I wish my teachers knew how much the lack of or too much sound in the classroom can annoy me as well as certain noises such as the sound of the marker on the whiteboard.
I wish my teachers knew how my head feels like it’s exploding a lot of the time from all the sensory overload and the anxiety as well as all the thoughts and ideas I am having.
I wish my teachers knew that I want to be the smart kid, I want to be myself, but I also want to fit in and I feel like I am the weird one and that people are constantly laughing at me.
I wish my teachers knew the truth. I wish they understood me. I wish they could see things from my perspective. I wish they could support my true needs.
I wish my teachers knew that i have depression and want to kill myself.
I wish my teachers would understand that on some days it is just not possible for me to prepare for 6+ lessons for the next day.
I wish my teachers knew, that 15 subjects are just too much for me to handle.
I wish my teachers knew, that when i am quiet in school, i am not thinking about what i will do in the afternoon, but thinking about where the next best place is to kill myself, because i can not understand anything in school for months.
I wish my teachers knew when i am talking to my best friend in class, i am trying to lift her up, because she is struggeling with depression too or because she is trying to lift me up.
I wish my teachers knew, that when I am crying about another bad grade, i am not crying because of me. I am crying because i have dispointed my parents once again.
I wish my teachers knew, that because of school i have no will to life left.
But then again, they now. I wish my teachers cared...
I wish my teachers knew I don't like other people
I wish my teachers knew when I didn't understand the topic
I wish my teachers knew that I didn't get enough sleep.
I wish my teachers knew that I was troubled.
I wish my teachers knew that I can't stand yelling or anyone raising their voice.
I wish my teachers knew I'm in physical and mental pain.
I wish my teachers knew I'm severely depressed.
I wish my teachers knew how to help me.
At a young age I didn't talk that much which developed into a bunch more problems later on. I can barely talk when I was about to cry and my deppresion starts taunting me, my mind full of hatred.
I now only have a close knit of friends because one of my best "friends" caused the start of depression. She treated me like a dog and said hurtful things and even when I told her to stop she kept doing it. I can't stand other people because I know that someday they'll hurt me or die one day.
My father figure day in January and I still cry because I can't handle it.
I'm probably starting to develop an eating disorder because stress and depression prevent me from eating. 12 years old, 4"11 and 84 or so pounds.
My cousin who I call my brother harasses me daily and I have had to fight to stay alive. I have been told by him that I'm not actually part of the family because I'm adopted.
My mother is sick and may die soon because she can't take the time to get better since she's a single mother raising me and my cousin.
My friends have a bunch of problems as well and we joke about it (at least I do) in order to not believe we have them.
They say "Get more sleep" "Be healthy, while we are stressed because of everything. I've been told that we make our own problems or don't have problems.
I once almost committed suicide at the start of the school year because I just wanted to stop all of the paib. I couldn't deal with the pain.
I'm still depressed and I've wanted to die everyday. There's pain everyday and I don't want to deal with it anymore. I wrote a memoir about it for school and my teacher sent me to the counselor. I lied about it and she excepted my lie. They don't know, they don't understand. You can only understand when you are in that place.
I wish my teachers knew I can’t concentrate at home because I had to watch the baby all afternoon and then babysit all four of the other kids because my dad always had to work and my mom always had to cook. I wish they knew I couldn’t concentrate in that school because all I could think about was how tired I am, how angry I am with my parents, and how I just wanted to die. I wish they knew when I got my quiet hour before bed, I couldn’t concentrate because all I could think was that I want to die and how I just wanted to see my dead friend one more time. I wish my teachers knew that I understand everything they’re telling me but it’s too hard for me to concentrate to explain it or practice it and if they had spent five minutes with me they’d know I understood everything. But now I’ve graduated and I wish my professors knew that all I can think about is how I’m going to be able to afford to keep going to school and how I dread going back home. I wish they knew I want to study, but I just can’t focus.
I wish my teacher I had last year knew that just because I'm smarter than the rest of the class don't mean I have to be sat at the back of the classroom with loads of extra worksheets and to stop blaming me for everything.heres an example:
A random person: makes someone's little sister cry
Me: at least 30 metres away talking to mate and gets ambushed by little kids kicking and pulling me.shouts at them to get off me
Head teacher and caretaker: yell at me and two other innocent people
When I was younger in the beginning of the school year, we were asked to write a letter about what we wish our teacher knew, and I wrote about mental health issues I have. I know she didn’t read it because nothing happened after I wrote it, for the whole school year. I know that the school counselor doesn’t care about me because last year I told her I had depression and anxiety and all I got was a, “You don’t have it unless you’re diagnosed.” Even though, I told her I stared at a pair of scissors and wanted to cut myself. I cut myself with a knife now.
I wish my teacher knew that they learn things way too slow even algebra 1 honors I mean we do start something new every day but it's just too slow. Also in some classes we for some reason get a full week of project work time, like we really need that. I finished the project as he was talking about it. I mean school needs to speed up 500%
👏absolutely agree with her. Also, wish my teachers knew that I want them to know who I am, rather than just a quiet face in a class, and I crave connection with them and the people around me. Being quiet isn’t a lack of engagement, but a need to feel comfortable enough to speak (or I’m just thinking a lot about what they’re saying!).
I wish my teacher knew I am not only just a kid I am a PERSON just like them and I deserve respect too!
I wish my teacher knew that I am not perfect!
I wish my teacher knew that I have feeling too and yelling at me for something is not going to change what has already been done!
I wish my teacher knew that life for a kid Is not a perfect life with nothing bad happening!
I wish my teach knew that my life is just as important as theirs and I deserve to be an equal!
I just wish my teacher knew.... I am not capable of everything and I am not perfect but I am a person I need respect, equality, I need a say in what happened to me and my future, I need to be able to go to the bathroom without being ridiculed about why I didn’t go before class!
I wish my teacher knew there are only like 2 minutes in between classes and I can’t do everything and then when I come in late there is a problem when everyday you tell me to do everything BEFORE class starts!
thank you for reading, (btw I cried while making this)
I wish my science teacher who I’ve had for a few years would stop calling me Emily when my names is Jessica.
I wish my teachers could understand I have glossophobia and I’ll take the detention over standing up and reading the homework I’ve done in front of everyone.
I wish my teachers would take the time and read my reports to learn I have dyscalculia and dyspraxia and I don’t learn the same as everyone else.
I wish my teachers knew I have dissociative epilepsy and I’m not just ignoring them and day dreaming.
I wish they knew how hard it is for me to remember 15 poems,a Shakespearean novel,A play,an old something centenary literature book, a list of science and business formulas because of my cognitive memory issues...i mean they aren’t testing intelligence they’re testing memory and that’s not fair on people with memory problems because of learning disabilities.
Also I wish they knew I’m up at 2am crying because I’m packed with stress trying to finish the tonnes of homework each teachers set.
I wish my teacher knew how much it affects me when she calls me a failure
I wish my teacher know that I feel isolated and judged when I talk
I wish my teacher knew people stare at me because I have a learning disability
I wish my teacher knew what it feels like to feel afraid to speak
I wish my teacher knew how to encourage us
I wish to have a teacher who actually believes in me 😭😭😭😭
I wish my teacher knew that we are all just teenagers dealing with life, depression, bullying, school, and ourselves.
I wish my teacher knew that we don't just go home and do nothing for the remainder of the day we have other things to do too.
I wish my teacher knew that everyday i get treated like dirt and can't tell my parents because they think that no one bothers me
I wish my teacher knew that one day i'm gonna explode from all this built up emotion
I wish my teacher knew that I'm just a kid so treat me like one
I wish my teacher knew that i get extremely depressed almost every day
I wish my teacher knew that my perfectionism has become completely toxic. I wish my teacher knew what it's like not to have any close friends, even though I really try. I wish my teacher knew how hard it is to deal with anxiety, and that I'm not just a little uncomfortable.
I wish my teacher knew I have anxiety and every time she says “I’m gonna pull a stick and if I call on you, you better have a answer.” That gives me even more anxiety, it makes me scared she will pull out the stick with my number on it. And if she calls on me I just sit there not knowing the answer yet..
I wish my teacher knew it’s hard for me to go to sleep.
I wish my teacher knew I feel alone. (I have friends but still.)
I wish my teacher knew I sometimes fake a smile but I really feel dead inside.
I wish my teacher knew when she asks me “Are you ok?” I lie, I say “Yes, I’m fine.” But really I’m not.
I still love my teacher though.
I wish my teachers knew that anxiety is an actual thing that students can have no matter the age. I wish my teachers knew the pressure that my family and society puts on me because I’m considered “smart” and to make matters worse I’m Asian so I’m expected to make amazing grades
I wish my teacher knew that I’m getting bullied in her class.
I wish my teacher knew that I have wanted to kill myself since I was in 5th grade because I had no friends and my parents didn’t care
I wish that my teacher knew that my parents had been pressuring me to get a degree, start a family, and be a surgeon because they know my brother won’t be successful
I wish my teacher knew that I didn’t have many friends or even friends at all because I can’t trust them and because I will cut people off not to be a burden
I want to talk to people that disliked this. They obviously don't know what depression, anxiety and addiction to self harm feels like. I want to explain it to them and see how they react. If they wouldn't understand i.. idk what i would do or say to them. My teacher once told me that a mother of one of her students came up to her once begging for a higher grade for her daughter and said: "Oh come on, she's pretty, she'll marry a rich guy". My teacher was obviously shocked. I was also dissapointed as well as my whole class when she told us that
I am looking the comments and I realized I am the only one that:
HAS HIGH SELF ESTEEM
DOESN'T HAVE ANY DISEASES/MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION
I didn't want to offend anyone, but wth why is everyone so depressed
I wish my teacher knew that I want to do well in school, but I don’t know how. I don’t understand the material and if I did I’d work so much harder and so much better.
I wish my teacher knew that I have insomnia, and that it’s so hard for me to sleep at night. I can’t focus on the lesson because I can only think about how tired I am.
I wish my teacher knew that I’m worried about losing my friends, because I feel like they’re the only people that get me. I only have 3 friends, and I’m constantly afraid that one day they’ll leave me because I’m not as smart as them.
I wish my teacher knew that I want to go to school to study fashion. I know that it seems like it’s just some little girls dream or whatever, but it’s a passion of mine and I love it more than anything else.
I wish my teacher knew how I feel.
I wish my school would stop persecuting me and stop trying to find things to exclude me for. I wish my school would stop humiluating me and stop talking down to me. I wish my school treated me like everybody else, and stop making me miss my lessons.
Child marriages are common:
On a recent day, eight community elders sat in a [refugee] camp, some chewing khat, the narcotic leaf favored by most Yemeni men. Seven have married off their girls this year.
Even Salim, the elder who worked at the charity, is preparing to marry off his two daughters, ages 13 and 14. "I want to feel secure of their futures, if only for economic reasons," he said.
Mohammad Ali al-Ansi married off his two girls, ages 13 and 14, in April. "My heart is bleeding inside, but I was forced to do this," he said. "I have no job. Its difficult for me to feed my 10 children." He received $1,600 in dowry for each of his girls, he said. But after paying for their weddings and meeting other debts, the money has nearly run out. "If things get worse, theres no doubt Ill marry off my 12-year-old daughter," Ansi said.
More on Ansis 14-year-old daughter Fatma, married to 21-year-old Zaid:
Fatma spent her day cooking and washing clothes for her in-laws. When asked the name of her husbands family, Fatma didnt know it. She remembers her father telling her and her sister, Amal, that the family needed money. She remembers that Amal was in tears because her new husband was taking her to another region. The two sisters have not seen each other since their weddings.
"I am too young to be married," Fatma said. "I want to study. I want to learn how to write. I have sacrificed for my family," she continued, her voice dropping to a whisper.
Minutes later, her husband arrived at the tent, and Fatma went silent. He said Fatma was "at a good age to marry." When asked if she could attend school, he shook his head no. "Shes a little too old for school," he said.
Female sexual freedom among the Tuareg : Flora Drury has written up the sex habits of the Saharas Muslim Tuareg people based on the work by Henrietta Butler. Some excerpts:
Their men became known as the blue men of the Sahara because the dye from their distinctive indigo scarves rub off onto their faces giving them a mysterious air. The Tuareg evoke images of a long forgotten and romantic age.