Today was more challenging. We have definitely begun to find our comfort zones and our voices, myself and the students. Although I am extremely excited to finally be getting some real feedback from them, it has also raised the issues of talking out and pushing to see how much they can get away with.
To begin the semester, I worked toward showing respect to the students to earn their trust and show them that I’m here for them to help them learn and succeed. However, now that we’re one week into the year, I had to begin to teach them that respect is expected in return. One of the ways that I showed them respect while also getting them to follow my lead was by having them design name tags for themselves.
Now name tags might seem a little juvenile for a bunch of middle schoolers but I think it is a valuable lesson. I asked them to write the name that they would like to be called by so that I can learn them and say their name rather than “hey you.” I told them it could serve as a bookmark too so that they wouldn’t forget it.
It was interesting to see some of the names students students wanted to be called. Some didn’t like their first names and preferred their middle names. Some wanted something different entirely. I happily obliged as long as it was appropriate. I want to give them their identity in the classroom and by doing so, they feel respected and I feel respected because they completed this seemingly simple task for me.
I say seemingly simple because a name is not simple. There is much to a name and it means a lot when someone recognizes who you are. I was proud of those kids and myself for having already developed this relationship of respect.