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I Wish My Teacher Knew: Thoughts on Cheetos

Written by Sarah Rager
November 16, 2020

Ever since hearing about Kyle Schwartz’s writing prompt, I have done it in my classroom each year. First graders usually said whatever what was on their mind, sometimes still quite profound, and other times less so.

This year I have fourth graders and we are online, so this prompt was even more useful than ever before. Many of my students have known me for years. For about half of them, I was their first grade teacher. That made this question more challenging for some–they tried to think of something new, something that had changed. For some, their answers were still just as silly as they had been in first grade. A surprising number of kids brought up their opinions on Cheetos. Some of them wanted to warn me that they like to talk a lot (as if I didn’t know that already!) Several of them used the space to describe their favorite video game and what level they were on.

Other students took a serious note. They wanted to let me know their passions and strengths, or what they needed my help with in learning. Students wrote to me about their reading preferences, and wanted to help me choose learning materials that would meet their needs. Many, many students told me about their families and loved ones.

Reading through these entries this last weekend, three months after they were first written, I found one that was turned in late that I hadn’t seen before. It was from one of my former first graders, who I have stayed close with through the years. This year online has been hard for her. She has a wild imagination and needs lots of support to stay focused. In school, this has always been a challenge, but online, I am finding it so hard to keep her engaged.

Her note to me read, “ilove you as my teacher and I want you to be my teacher for ever and ever.” She talked about how she had not gotten along with her teacher last year. She had high hopes for the year. 

Lately, I have been feeling so discouraged by this year, and I know I have stopped trying as hard as I did in the beginning. This was the reminder I needed to try harder than ever to reach her. I can’t give up. This year has taken away so much from our kids, but I won’t let it take away our relationships.