I Wish You Knew… {Sharing A Piece of Our Worlds}

I have often listened to people speak or others’ conversations and thought…if they only knew.


If they only knew how hard baby showers are for the infertile.   If they only knew nontraditional families often feel labelled and less than.   If they only knew that most teachers love their jobs and your child and have no desire to “fail” them. If they only knew that the way a child acts in public is devastating to his momma as she tries and tries at home.

I’ve listened to discussions on Baltimore and Ferguson and wondered how we could possibly know or chime in when we’ve never met those people, never visited their city (in most cases), and never spent the night in their homes.

I often feel so many of us operate out of ignorance – unintentionally.  We simply do not know how another feels, what it’s like behind closed doors, or where that person has been.  And in the “not knowing” we often assume or get frustrated – or gossip – about the missing information.

However, when Colorado teacher Kyle Schwartz felt like there was something she just didn’t know about her students, she decided to ask.**  Kyle asked her third graders to tell her something they’d like her to know about them and shared the responses on Twitter using the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew.

The responses ranged from heartbreaking to uplifting.

One child simply wished  the teacher knew that she didn’t have pencils at home for homework.

After seeing Kyle’s story, I asked my classes to tell me something they wished I knew about them.  They, in turn, asked me what they should know about me.  It was the single most eye-opening activity I’ve ever done.  And, no, it probably met no standard, nor will the time we spent discussing improve their standardized test scores, but it made us all human.

It made us all realize that many around us do not have it as easy as we might think. That the teacher is human too.  That dialogue produces progress.  And so much more.

I then asked my students to create their own hashtags.

#IWishMyParentsKnew #IWishTheWorldKnew  #IWishMyClassmatesKnew  #IWishMyCoachKnew #IWishDepressionKnew

Simple, 140 character tweets that gave me a priceless glimpse into their worlds – into their hearts and homes.

It’s nearly impossible to get frustrated with a perpetually tardy gal when you know she walks her autistic younger brother into his school each morning and gets him situated before coming to school.  It’s nearly impossible to give a zero for an untyped story when a boy has no access to a computer or the internet – or food some days.  It’s nearly impossible for the mean girl to get a rise out of me when I know the depth of her hurt and why she’s hurting others.

When the face with the student number and attendance record gets connected to a story and to a family, suddenly, you aren’t there just to teach them writing or reporting: You’re there to be a human.  To listen and love in the ways you can. (I shared -and am still sharing- my students’ tweets anonymously.  I hope you’ll take time to visit Twitter (hyperlink here) and hear their hearts.)

And in the midst of sharing those tweets, Lisa Whittle created #IWishMyKidsKnew and asked me to respond.


It was harder than I thought, admitting what I wish others knew.  That deep fear or insecurity that rests in my soul, affecting how I think and feel about the world around me.

Those few things that rest in my heart – those things that if I could just share, I might be understood better.  (Because, truly, that’s what we all want, huh?  To be understood.)

What do you wish others knew?  Or, what do you wish your depression knew?  or your past?  or your future?  your friends? your spouse? your world?

 {And the responses don’t always have to be heart breaking or soul revealing; they can simply be, “How much I look forward to our time together.” #IWishMyFriendsKnew

I hope you’ll share your own desire and hashtag in the comments. I’d love to read what you wish _____________ knew.

Thanks for sharing!

**Note:   I learned of Kyle and her project via ABC News.


  1. Judy Peoples says:

    Sarah, do I have your permission to use this idea with my preschoolers and to share part of your blog with my preschool families – I promise you’ll get the credit; i couldn’t say it better than you did!

    • Judy – I’d love for you to use it! And you do not have to give me any “credit” etc.:) I will just be thankful to know that more of our kiddos – regardless of age – are sharing their hearts so we can all understand one another better.

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