Two four-letter words. These two words stalk me. They are everywhere. I open my mailbox and there they are on a bright white envelope. I walk into my classroom and there they are on my classroom door written in black block print. I swipe my debit card and there they are, written in silver on a shiny turquoise-colored plastic. I send an email and there they are in the signature line in a Lucinda Handwriting. And I don't just see them, I hear them too. I walk down the hallway and I hear someone shouting them. I answer the phone and I hear someone on the other end of the line asking for them. Two simple words. My name.
But what is really in a name? Why do I even have it?
A name is defined by dictionary.com as "a word or a combination of words by which a person, place, or thing; a body or class; or any object of thought is designated, called, or known." Therefore, the simple purpose of a name is to set someone apart from among the rest. It is not who I am as a person, but who I am as a person is in my name.
Sara Holt is not me. Sara Holt is what represents me. It is my substitute. If I can not be somewhere, it stands in for me. It allows people to recognize who I am. My name tells them that I am the daughter of Ted & Linda Moore. I am the sister to Andrew Moore & Misty Gibson. I am Kevin Holt's wife. I am one of the Quad Pod's sisters. I am a 3rd grade teacher to 26 amazing kids. I am a child of Christ. These are who I am. These are the things that are in my name. Therefore, my name is extremely important. It is the two words that sums up my being. Those two words can be run through the dirt and tarnished or they can be praised and upheld until they are golden. Either way, it is who I am as a person that distinguishes how those two simple four-letter words will stand in and represent me.
What is really in your name and what does it say about who you are?
Twenty-six third graders walk into your classroom on the first day of school. They come in anxious, nervous, excited, sad, tired, angry, etc. You greet them at the door and tell them to find a seat and that their assignment is on the board. As the students file in one by one they all sit looking around, taking in their surroundings, checking out who is and who is not in their classroom. Once all students have been greeted, seated, and the bell rings, you as the teacher walk to the front of the room. The students stare you up and down. They immediately size you up by your appearance. The only thing that is going to make or break the impression they have just formed of you is what you say. First impressions are everything... even to a group of 9 year olds.
You step to the front of the class and you say, "Good morning Citizens". Not students, friends, boys and girls, class, or the variety of other boring terms they have heard over and over again. Instead you come up with something fresh. You greet them as citizens because you know that your goal as an educator is to create productive citizens for society. You call them citizens because you know that you will succeed in your mission.
You continue with the following:
"Welcome to your first day at Central Elementary. This is a big, big day for you. It is your fourth first day of school. You now have at least nine first days of school left. Hopefully, in nine years from now you will graduate from high school. I know that sounds like forever from now, but I can promise you... it will come faster than you think. It was only 14 years ago that I was sitting where you are now. In twelve years, you will have learned how to write 5 page essays. And how to solve math problems with numbers and letters in them. You will even learn how to spell the word..... utilitarianism." You pause and allow them their moment of brief denial. Then you continue. "When you graduate from high school, most of you will have a part time job and will be able to drive a car. You will be ready to take your place in the world. You will be ready to travel across the country or even go to another country. Some of you may choose to continue with school and go to college to study to be a doctor, astronaut, or scientist. It will be a wonderful adventure. That adventure began in kindergarten and it will continue here. Right now. Today. It will be a journey and an adventure of many days.".
You walk to the board and say, "How many days?" You wait for the students to shout out numbers but never says a word. You step over to your Active board and write the numbers 180. You then say, "That is the number of school days we are required to have each school year". You write x9. "That is the number of years you have left to attend school". You then multiply the two numbers on the Active board; writing each number very slowly. Once the problem is solved, you point to the bottom number. 1620. "There it is", you say. "One thousand six hundred twenty. This is how many days left in your journey. This is how long your journey will last. Every one of those days will be an opportunity to learn something new. Just imagine how much you can learn in one thousand six hundred twenty days". You pause for students to imagine. "One thousand six hundred twenty adventures. One thousand six hundred twenty opportunities to become whatever you want to become."
You stand there looking at the students astonished faces. Then you look at the clock and tell all those little citizens that time has flown by and before you know it they will be on day one thousand six hundred nineteen so they must begin their day.
Throughout the year, you remind your students that each day is a new adventure. It is a day for new opportunities. A new day to try to be who you want to be. It is a day to try something new. This is their day. They choose how it goes be it good or bad.
This is how my classroom is ran thanks to an amazing story that I read to my students and was inspired to adapt as my own. The story is entitled Loser and was written by Jerry Spinelli. Now, tell me how you run your classroom?