Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Slice of Life: Thinking about Names!

When the checker at Starbuck's called me by name on Saturday, I was shocked. I'm an infrequent Saturday morning hot chocolate drinker. I was shocked and impressed. How did she manage to remember my name? 

And then she told me about her 3rd grade teacher who recently saw her and said, "Hello, Samantha!" Samantha was surprised that she would remember her name nearly two decades later. I'm rotten at remembering names. It's why I always told my students to stick out their hand for a handshake and say, "Hi, I'm ... " whenever they see me in the future. I told them that would allow me to relax and enjoy our conversation without searching my brain for their name.

This encounter with Samantha on Saturday led me to think about my ongoing attempts to declutter my teaching files. Yes, I know I retired five years ago. This task is ongoing and long overdue. I started in the Language Arts drawer, but soon realized that the Social Studies files would be easier to part with. I loved teaching both subjects, but literacy is where my heart is. 

Many of the files were of project-based learning and while it was easy to part with the stacks of informational pages, the hardest task  was parting with student samples. Names on papers circled in my head before landing in the bin. I felt somewhat like Miss Nancy on Romper Room. Only instead of looking in the magic mirror, I was looking in the recycle bin. Here are just a few of the names I can recall from sample papers I recycled! "I see Abbie, and Jeremy, and Priya, and Joshua. And there's Namya, and Nick, and Kylie, and Aaron. I see Rachel, and Charles, and Lauren, and Shawn. And there's Max, and Samy, and Collin, and Kajal.  I see Nora, and Issac, and Homa, and Mariam. And there is Michi, and Brendan, and Margaret, and Dylan and Linh."

I'd better stop before I make you listen to all 500+ names of my former students. I'm rotten at remembering names, but their 6th grade faces are forever imprinted on my heart which makes throwing their papers in the recycle bin a bit easier.
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  1. Oh my goodness, was her name Miss Nancy?? I totally remember Romper Room and How desperate I was to hear her finally call my name! Oh, you just called up all kinds of emotions with that throwback! And I am with you in finding it hard to part with student work. In my case, I have kept a 20 year archive of report card comments. Some of which I pull out and share with graduating seniors on occasion. That's how I justify holding onto them...

  2. It is amazing the way images can be conjured up in front of your eyes. I wonder if all those students know what an imprint they have left on you.

  3. I've thrown nearly all my teaching files, Ramona, but still have much of the student's work. It is not easy when remembering their faces, wishing I could just hand it all back. You've written a beautifully poignant post for teachers retiring!

  4. Oh Ramona - I have been doing this for 6 years as well. I just did another bunch this past winter on a bitterly cold day. You are right - the student samples are hard to get rid of. The names on samples brought faces popping into my head. I was happy to clear out space but oh so hard. Love your post.

  5. I imagine myself in this position in the near future. I love the handshake idea!

  6. I, too, am terrible at names - a poor quality for a teacher! I have a wonderful picture in my mind of papers going into a wastebasket while the names swirl upward like a tornado and the beloved images of student after student appears in your head. Makes me wish I could draw. So glad that you had a good day of remembering, even if the throwing away is hard.

  7. It's hard to part with things and I enjoyed reading about your thinking that will open your heart to do this next step. Your heart is full.