As I get older I find that I can’t remember names like I used to. Seating charts and assignned seats help, but when you make the August transformation from the serenity of your home cave to the rowdiness and confusion of the first few days of school it’s difficult to get a fix on five different groups of kids.
No matter how how I try I always end up saying things like,
“Hey, you….Hey kid…..you…you there in the yellow shirt…” or “Yo, blonde girl…”, or my personal favorite name calling fiasco…
“Jim, will you answer number 3?”
“Jim, what about three?
“Earth to Jim…”
I finally walk over to Jim. Jim looks up. “Jim, now that we have your attention, can you answer number three for us?”
“Sure, Mrs. EHT, but my name’s not Jim.”
I barely get out the word “Oh”as I slink back over to my stool amidst titters and downright guffaws.
How cold and cruel can they be? Somebody had to know his name wasn’t Jim. I know I have a Jim around here somewhere.....Why didn't he speak up? Is it May yet?
Well, my fine young charges had drawn a line in the …..carpet…..and I couldn’t let them continue to get the best of me.
While we finished going over our lesson questions I just pointed to students as I called on them and mentally hatched out my plot. I vowed to never forget a name as long as the school year lasted, or until I die, whichever should occur first.
We had a few minutes of time left before the end of class so I dove into my closet and pulled out my box of old, used file folders and the brand, spanking new boxes of Crayolas I had unpacked during pre-planning. I really hated to pull those Crayons out because I knew in mere seconds I would never see the boxes again, and the poor stubby sticks of color would wind up in the huge bin of forlorn and broken crayon pieces in the back of the room.
It was my mental health or the integrity of my Crayolas. My mental health won....
The kids, of course, erupted into choruses of “Hey, EHT, what cha’ doin’?” Some of the more antsey ones were already up on their knees trying to get a better view. Then the guessing began.
“I bet we’re gonna draw.”
“What are we gonna color?”
“Can we do it the way we want?”
“Are these going in the hall?”
“Do we have to draw?”
I grabbed a pair of scissors and began to cut each side of the file folders into neatly trimmed rectangles while they continued to throw out guesses. Finally, I sat on my stool…mainly to see if they remembered one of the quiet signals I had gone over earlier. Within seconds they were quiet, and I picked up a rectangle and began to tell them what we were going to do.
Yep…..we made deskplates, and here are the results….
I tell students they can keep them in the pocket of their folders, and at the end of every nine weeks those students that still have their nameplates will receive an ice cream on me from the cafeteria. Many still have them at the end of the year. They think they are smart because they manage to get four free ice creams out of me, but I like to think I’m the smart one because I don’t have to say, “Hey….Hey you…..!”