What’s In A Name?

Well, if it is YOUR name, there is a lot in it. It is at the core of your identity. It is one of the first things you hear in life and you cherish hearing people say it. Everyone wants their name known.

Hardly a day at school goes by where I don’t have a kid ask me, “Do you know my name?” Honestly, that is something I have struggled with most of my life, but I am working on it diligently. If I know the kid’s name, they smile and go away happy. If I don’t, I make up something crazy, like “Captain America or Oprah.” At least it gets me off the hook for the moment.

It is easy to remember the names of two types of kids. This first ones excel in class and never cause any problems. Star students naturally stand out for the right reasons. The other ones are the troubled kids. You know them because they constantly disrupt your class and you seem to call out their names every time you turn around.

But what about the other 80% of kids who are your average students. Do you know their names? Do you know their hopes, dreams, and fears? Do you even notice they are absent when they don’t show up?

Here is my challenge not just to you but to myself. Know the 80% like you do the other 20%. Make an effort to call them by name as often as possible…not just when you are correcting them. When we call kids by their name, we reinforce several things in them:

  • Who they are.
  • That we care enough to know their name.
  • That they matter.

Kids have fragile egos that we can help shape, reinforce, and motivate to success. When kids know they are loved, free to be themselves, and accepted for who they are, they tend to have less drama in their lives and in the classroom. It begins at home, of course, but it is reinforced at school.

As educators, we have a sacred responsibility to not just teach the 3 Rs, but to teach life. Life is hard and can be brutal at times for all of us. Give kids the chance they need to succeed. It begins by loving them and calling them by their name.


Dan Skognes

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