8 Reasons for Teachers to Learn Their Students' Names


Throughout human history and pretty much every teacher's first weeks of school, names have been powerful things. Even mystical. In ancient societies, it was believed that if you knew someone's name you had a special power or command over them. Especially if they were a diety! So people would try to know the gods' names to get them to do what they wanted, and the gods (of course) would lie about their names to keep from being controlled.

Every substitute teacher knows this battle too.
     "Hey you," the teacher says.
     "Who me?" the bad bad student says.
     "What's your name?"
     Awkward pause. Then the student says, "Mike."
     "All right, Mike, you are clearly not listening, so I'm writing your name on the teacher's list and you'll have to deal with her when she returns."
Then you notice a couple of snickers on student faces. And a hard-to-hide smirk on Michael's lips.
     He's pulled a fast one on you. Maybe you can't prove it, but gosh if you didn't wish you knew his name!!!
This coming school year will be my 13th year teaching (middle school, high school, college, and subbing), and one thing I've started making a HUGE COMMITMENT to do is learn my students' names. And I think it's one of the most important things I do as a teacher. I believe this so strongly. I learn all of their names. All of them. Even the students who all look alike. Even the names that are super difficult to say.
Now this is one area where Elementary teachers have it easy. 20-30 names. Easy. Try 6 or 7 classes of 30-40 names! Last year my middle school English classes had 250+ students, which = 250+ names. How on God's green Earth is a teacher supposed to learn all those?! Should we even put that pressure on ourselves. After all those first couple weeks of school are stressful enough already! The answer is yes. It is worth it. Even when it's difficult.

Because students can see feel through the bull crap. We've got these awesome classroom rules about respect and all that, yet when we call on the student we say, "Hey you!" Hey you? We know when someone values and respects us, especially when it's a teacher we're going to be with all year long. Let's show them the respect they deserve. Unconditional respect. This means we respect them because they're a human, not because of their behavior (look for a blog post on this in the future).

It will help us realize again, year after year, that our cultural heritage (whatever one that is) is not the most important or any better than our students'. Just because our culture's perennial name winners are easy for us to say does not make them better names...it just makes them more familiar. So let's broaden our cultural horizons. Let's learn to speak other cultures. And correctly! Don't just half-effort the names. Have the kid repeat it until she's happy with your pronunciation. Then write down some phonetic reminder of how to say it.


So our seating charts might look something like this (student names changed for privacy reasons):


NOTE: Those words at the bottom (Charger, Responsible, Easygoing, Outgoing) are from a personality profile I have my students do. It's from the book Seriously Dating and Engaged by Becky Tirabassi. We don't have permission to publish the personality profile, but there are so many available out there. We highly recommend learning your students personalities (another blog post in the future).

NOTE #2: Those numbers in the boxes are their classroom textbook numbers.

NOTE #3: Those numbers at the front of each row pairs are the number of students in those rows to make counting handouts fast and easy.

When we use their actual names, it instantly makes the environment more personal. They can feel that you've already tried to KNOW them. Because you have. It's hard to learn people's names, and when their teacher puts in the effort, they feel safer, like they belong. What a great feeling to give our students. This will also prime the pump for our students to open up later throughout the year, even sharing some personal thoughts, beliefs, feelings, fears while we read novels or discuss non-fiction. They might even get enough courage to discuss or argue or debate. Woot!

Which will lead to deeper involvement. By all the students. Not just the ones...wait for it...that we know their names. :) Because the way it normally works is that the naturally outgoing students speak up, get their names known, and get more attention all year long because they started their own "know"ing process and so did the teacher. When we learn all of their names, even the easygoing, responsibly quiet students will feel the buy-in to participate. They'll feel included.

Students are shy. I know, some aren't, but most are. They pick a corner of the room and sit there most of the year. Which means they hardly ever meet each other, especially not those kids that chose the far aisle during the first week of school. When we use their full names, it not only introduces our students to the equally respected variety of cultures, but it helps connect them to each other. Let's help them with that. As hard as it may be.

That's right...street cred. Word of mouth spreads. Students aren't dumb. They can tell which teachers really care, and they are more than happy to reciprocate. Remember Reason #2? Some of us want the students to respect us first before we'll respect them. The opposite is actually the best way to go. Respect them first, no matter what. It may take them a while, but they'll pick up on it. Or maybe their peers will figure it out first, then when Chucklehead from 3rd Period tries to badmouth you out during Nutrition, the students will actually defend you. Word will spread. Then this crazy phenomenon will happen: your students will start respecting you back. Then next year will start out easier than this year did. Street cred lives on from year to year.

Through all of this, your students will feel that you truly care. And to think it may have started because you invested the time and energy to learn to TRULY say and pronounce and remember their names. All of them.

You can do it! We'd love to hear your stories and thoughts.



http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Created-For-Learning

IF I STAY by Gayle Forman

We're pretty stoked for this movie to come out on August 22nd. If you liked THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green, you might enjoy IF I STAY by Gayle Forman. If you knew you might die...and you knew the choice to stay or go was up to you...what would you do? Do you stay?

365 Days of I Love You

Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning
More than 15 years have passed since my wife and I embarked on this journey they call marriage. We've traveled the world (and hopefully we're not done), we've devoured the whole TV series of LOST in an addicted frenzy, we've brought 3 lovely daughters into the world, we've started businesses, gone on thousands of date nights, and one thing we've learned about us and many married couples we know...we don't affirm each other enough.

Doesn't it become so easy to criticize and tell the other person how they're doing wrong? And if we're not careful, we become our spouses biggest accuser instead of their biggest advocate. Deep down, that's really what Lisa and I want to be in our marriage -- each other's biggest advocate.

Advocate.

Supporter. Friend. Defense Lawyer.

But it can be so hard sometimes, even though I know how awesome she is (I definitely married up, everybody). The marriage and relationship research out there says something like this: You've gotta give 5 positive affirmations for every criticism in order to stay at an equal emotional level. 5 to 1!!! Not 1 to 1. So before I drop a hint that I'd really appreciate her bringing my breakfast in bed right at 5:30 on the dot (just kidding, seriously, how horrible would that be?!), I've got to tell her 5 ways that I appreciate her utter awesomeness as a person.

Thus, this project. This journey together.

For the next 365 days, my wonderful wife and I are going to affirm each other and post them publicly. We'd love for you to join us on this very fun adventure into each other's hearts. Our Blog name and Teachers Pay Teachers store is called "Created for Learning" because we focus a lot on how we were created for learning with our minds. So we threw a little twist in for this one and called this journey "Created for Learning Each Other." Because it's true. We get the rest of our lives together to learn each other. To become experts in each other.

So we hope our journey might somehow also inspire your relationships as much as it's already invigorating ours.

Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning
Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning
Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning
Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning
Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning
Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning Reasons we love each other...a gift for each day...a journey of affirming thoughts for the ones we love...365 days of loving each other by Created for Learning

And that's just the beginning. Of this year's adventure into knowing each other more. And of the next 70 years together!

You're welcome to join us. It's easier than you might think and so so so rewarding. If you end up joining us in 365 Days of I Love You, let us know! We'd love to hear your stories!



http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Created-For-Learning



7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Urgency Matrix

7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Urgency Matrix - Classroom Management, Planning, Teacher, Calendars, Created for Learning

My summer reading list includes the classic book, 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Steven Covey. I've been listening to the audiobook while I work on other things, and it's been a great journey so far. I'm about halfway done.

Here's a little gem I read today:

7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Urgency Matrix - Classroom Management, Planning, Teacher, Calendars, Created for Learning


And I think this is a good thought process for me as a teacher. Every day in the classroom, it seems like I get bombarded with things to do.
  1. Sign this office paperwork
  2. Organize these student release schedules
  3. Answer parent emails
  4. Post student resources to the online forum
  5. Plan for upcoming lessons
  6. Grade papers
  7. Be present with students who need me
  8. Discipline out-of-line knuckleheads
  9. etc. etc.
Every day before I leave my classroom to go home, I make a to-do list for tomorrow's jobs, but it can get a little overwhelming at times. What should be done first? What is sucking my emotional energy away and just needs to be done now so my brain won't melt?

The concept behind Covey's matrix is helpful, I think. Sort things by urgency, and do them in order. I wonder what my to-do list on the corner of my desk would look like if I organized them like this. Urgent AND Important gets done first. Then Urgent but Not Important. Then Not Urgent, but Important. Then Not Urgent, and Not Important. Maybe it's just me, but if I sorted things like this, I might never get to quadrant IV, but I suppose that's a good thing. Recognizing that stuff isn't urgent and isn't important would help ignite me into action on those days when my brain just feels like it's treading water in a Class 5 Whitewater Rapids.

So consider your to-do list for today...what things truly belong in Quadrant 1 - Important AND Urgent?

Consider how much time you're actually spending in each quadrant. Ask yourself:

Am I the kind of person that takes care of the URGENT/IMPORTANT Quadrant 1, then retreats immediately to Angry Birds or Candy Crush in Quadrant 4?

How much of my time is spent in Quadrant 3, where I might be confusing urgent things for important things? Maybe I could say No to these things that feel urgent but aren't important if I recognized them as such.

And how many things from Quadrant 2 do we just never seem to get around to as much as we doggonit know we should do those things? These are the things that are important to our lives but require us to choose to do them because they aren't urgent.
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Personal development
  • Relationship development
  • Spiritual development
  • Setting goals
  • Rest
  • All the things that you would say, "If I had time to do just one thing that I've been wanting to do, what would it be?" Those probably belong in Quadrant 2.

These are the heart of effective personal management. These are the preventive maintenance that will help us avoid many a crisis. They help us starve problems and think preventatively.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Urgency Matrix - Classroom Management, Planning, Teacher, Calendars, Created for Learning


This honest evaluation of myself will show me patterns of my life and open up my stinking eyes to the priority of stuff I'm skipping over each day...you know...those things that you keep meaning to get done but they never seem to get done but they're really important ... they really are, I swear! :)

So here's a tip of my glass to a more alert inner journey! Happy teaching! Happy life!




Created for Learning Blog and Teaching Store

Our Kids Can Surprise Us

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine (organization, laundry, schedules, life, Created for Learning)

Transitioning from teacher to mother has been more difficult than I thought . . . I mean, I could patiently handle twenty 1st and 2nd grade students, how hard could it be to parent three kids?  Right?  But I currently feel like I'm in survival mode.  I am overwhelmed by all the responsibilities that my brain is telling me I need to juggle.  I LOVE my girls but I find myself saying, "I procreated myself out of my sanity," more times than I care to experience.  

Time-management is a weakness of mine.  I desperately want to think through and set up household routines that will help maintain order in our home . . . basically I want my home to run as peacefully as my classroom did.

To help with this, I've been listening in the car to an audiobook, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine. Usually my kids ask for me to change it to music, but sometimes I can slip in some listening time for "mommy's turn." *Cause we mommies can only take so much of the Ghostbusters/Star Wars/Mary Poppins mix CD.*
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine (reviewed by Created for Learning, a Teachers Pay Teachers author)
Well, the other day we were getting ready to leave for a fun day-trip (so I was trying not to feel frantic, thinking I would forget something) and my just-turned-six-year-old daughter, online we'll call her Miss Responsible, came up to me and said her list was all done for this morning just like the lady on my CD said to do.  I stopped my swirling preparations to look at her and ask her for more details to see what she had paid attention to when listening.

She amazed me.

She led me into her bedroom where *Holycowwhendidshehavettimetodothis!* she had posted all these lists on her wall. She'd written her list for what she needs to do in a day.  It was on 4-separate pages and labeled accordingly, "Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Bedtime."  Well, I'm assessing, she may not know the difference between evening and afternoon.  :-) 



Teacher Lesson Plans @ TeachersPayTeachers by Created for Learning

Miss Responsible is starting to understand social media and emailing.  She asked if I could send an email to the author, Crystal Paine, letting her know that she was following her advice.  In Miss Responsible's words, "When my mom is in the car listening to your book, I am listening along with it and in the chapter when you said to make your daily list, I heard that and I made some."  She just informed me that she has updated her list since this picture because she forgot check-off boxes next to "disert".  I think adding "dessert" to my daily docket is a brilliant idea. ;)

This is so fun. Once again, I'm reminded not to underestimate our kids.  Miss Responsible has completed this organizational step before me. I'm proud of her and, hey, this should eliminate my need to tell her what to do in the morning since she obviously already knows what needs to be done. Right?!

          
I complimented her on how smart she was and she said, "It's not me, it's the CD. Hey, that rhymes."

Thank you, Crystal Paine, for your book. It is helping me . . . and my daughter. 


TRANSPARENCY DISCLAIMER: We thought you should know that we are in no way being paid by any of these companies to discuss these products. There...we said it. :)



Created for Learning Blog and Teaching Store
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