As a new school year begins, teachers are building relationships with students and fostering positive classroom communities, which inherently means learning student names. As Issaquah’s school community becomes more diverse, learning student names accurately is arguably becoming more important than ever.
As all teachers know, names matter, and are central to a student’s identity. This is particularly important to students who are not white. While a lot of time is often spent printing names correctly, pronunciation also matters. While mispronouncing a student’s name may seem minor, it can have a significant impact on how they see themselves and their linguistic and cultural background, causing feelings of anxiety, invisibility, shame, resentment and humiliation, all of which can lead to social and educational disengagement.
One teacher highlighted in this article about name pronunciation reminds herself to ask,
“Is this name hard to pronounce, or is that just my vantage point?” While the process of asking a student how to pronounce their name (and then learn it) can feel awkward, the article advocates for this more direct approach, and asks educators to embrace the awkwardness. In fact, as teachers it is our responsibility to help bridge this gap in communication and understanding. This in turn communicates to students that their teacher cares, and that they belong.
With technology, teachers have the opportunity to provide students with platforms to share their names, identity, and backgrounds in a meaningful way. Students can use a platform to introduce themselves WITH the correct pronunciation of their name. Not only do teachers then learn the intricacies of their name, but so do their classmates – both in the moment and as a reference tool. Flipgrid might be a tool for you to consider, as you cultivate a positive sense community in your classroom this upcoming school year!
Within each grid (i.e. “class”), there are lots of topics that you can build. In this instance, each topic could be a student’s introduction, where they explain how to pronounce their name, alongside a visual and any other relevant information. Embedded within those topics are possibilities for video responses to the original student’s video. Students can then comment back to the original video with a question or compliment! This essentially turns the Flipgrid platform into an ongoing discussion where students share about themselves, and in turn learn about their peers. Furthermore, teachers can refer back to the Flipgrid videos as a reference tool to ensure that they are pronouncing student names accurately.
Find the full article here.