After spending over a year exploring the 360’s (Social Problems & Social Services), I am finally ready to move on to the 370’s, Education. Education is a constantly changing field with many subtopics. Being a former teacher myself I am excited to see what the Fulton County Public Library has to offer in this category.
All of us would probably agree that a good quality education is important. Most of us would agree that our educational system is not perfect and can always be improved. Some of the first books I encountered in this section do indeed have an emphasis on improving what happens in the classroom. In theory parents, teachers, and students should all be working together to get the most out of our educational system. With limited resources and funding, America’s teachers have to be creative and that is exactly what I found to be true in I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids by Kyle Schwartz.
Ms. Schwartz is an elementary school teacher who emphasizes building relationships with students and their families. She believes this helps bridge the gap between school and home as well as establish trust between teachers, students, classmates, and parents. As a first year teacher Ms. Schwartz explained to her class that she wanted to get to know them better. She had the simple idea to use a sentence starter, “I wish my teacher knew…” and have her students finish it. The wide range of answers that students came up with totally astounded Kyle Schwatz and she has used this idea in her classroom ever since. She also shared the idea on social media and it went viral as other teachers across the country picked up on it. This simple idea has helped teachers across the country be able to connect better with their students, adjust lessons to fit individual needs, combat hunger and poverty as well as many other tough topics. If you are a teacher or if you teach informally in any capacity, I suggest that you read this book.
When I was teaching, I did something similar in my classrooms. All of my students kept a journal. They could write what ever they wanted to in their journals. This was an ungraded communication between me and my students. When my students entered my room the first thing they did was get their journals out of the journal basket and write in them. Often the students wrote notes to me which I answered every day. My students thought it was cool to be passing notes with the teacher. Like Ms. Schwartz’s students, my students brought up all sorts of topics. The only journal rules were that there were to be no bad words (most of my students were middle schoolers) and that they had to write at least one sentence everyday. The majority of my students wrote much more than one sentence. This gave purpose to their writing and they didn’t feel intimidated because they were not graded (although I did correct their spelling). This also gave me the opportunity to interact privately each day with every student I had. Often problems were solved this way. Sometimes students made suggestions and other times they just wanted to tell me that their cat had kittens. The students felt “heard.” At other times I could simply let an individual student know what I appreciated about him or her.
Equally as important as the idea of students communicating with teachers is the need for teachers to communicate with parents. The next book is similar to the previous one except that in this book the emphasis is on teachers wishing parents knew various things.
Though this is an older book, I still think it is beneficial for parents to read it. Much of the information in this book is still very relevant. Successful students usually have cooperating adults in their lives. I recommend this book for parents of school aged children.
I wish I could say that there is a third book about what parents wish teachers knew, but I could find no such book. (For all of you authors out there, here is another topic wide open for you). I searched the Fulton County Public Library for such a book and could not find one. Then I broadened my search to Evergreen (our statewide library consortium) and could not locate this type of book there either. I’m sure that we have books encouraging parents to communicate with teachers but not a simplified one like the previous two books.
Did you have teachers who communicated with you in writing? If you were a teacher how did you communicate individually with your students? Thinking about your favorite teachers, was their communication style something that sticks out in your mind?