Monday, August 15, 2016

What's That Name: First Day of School

A few years ago, a group of children ran into my room and asked if "that guy" could help out.

I asked, "Which guy?" and then they pointed to our school custodian, a man who had worked at our school for many, many years. It struck me that the students didn't know our faithful, highly qualified (actually over qualified) afternoon custodian's name. Our custodian, at that time, was a teacher who had chosen to be a custodian when he immigrated to the United States so he could take care of his family.

As I think of that situation and the funny and eye-opening Saturday Night Live skit, "What's That Name," I am reminded that names are very important, and it's imperative that the students and I get to know the names of everyone that works with us in our school community. Similarly it's important that the students, family members, and you get to know each others' names as well.

Yet, it's not always easy getting to know everyone's name in the school environment, that's why I believe this takes a concerted effort. There are many actions we can take to help everyone get to know everyone else's name. For example, at the front of our school, we have a staff board with names and pictures. I'm creating a similar "staff board" on our class website so students and family members can look up all the teachers' names and see their pictures. We also post class lists on the board and website for easy reference. In addition, I'd like to create a video of every child saying their name and their three words--a take-off from the GMA video from a few years ago and an approach my colleagues have used in the past. I made a small version of what the video might look like below, and will work with colleagues to refine the approach prior to the start of school. I imagine we may have students create a small poster or words on paper prior to the filming.

When students film, I'd like the to do the following:
  • Place themselves in front of a place that has meaning for them.
  • Use the iPad to film themselves.
  • Say their full name clearly and their three words.
  • Film repeatedly until they come up with a video they're satisfied with.
  • We'll create one long video of all the short videos. 
We'll share the video on parents' night as one way to introduce all the students and their names. We'll also post the video privately for the students and families, just in case they want to match a name with a face as the year rolls along. 

With our multicultural population at our school, it's challenging to get all the names right. This might be one way to help us out, and to also let every child know that they and their name are important to us. 

Note: One other aspect of this project that's great is that it helps student to increase their comfort level and experience with videotaping their words--a skill they'll need in the future, and one I'm still getting used to. :)

Here's a nice example of students using the three words. I like this, but I really want to include students saying their names correctly and proudly:

@Jessicalura sent me this great link about the name project