This weekend, I waited in line at a restaurant with my family. The line of people waiting to be seated was long, so the hostess took names and explained that the wait would be from 20-30 minutes. Periodically, she called out a name and people shuffled forward, ready to sit down and enjoy their dinner.
As I listened to the hostess call out names, I noticed that she often paused and considered the name on her list before making the announcement. Sometimes, she repeated the name with different pronunciations. Occasionally, people approached the hostess station, but appeared unsure if their name had been called. I listened as several patrons (gently and politely) corrected the pronunciation before following another hostess to their seats.
While I waited for my table, I began thinking about names and pronunciations. I have the fear of mispronouncing a student’s name because I would hate to mess up something as important as a person’s name. I would also hate for a student to think that I didn’t care enough to figure out how to pronounce or spell his or her name. As a result, there have been occasions where I’ve checked with other teachers about how to pronounce a new student’s first or last name. I’ve even practiced saying names so that I can get them right not just for the first time, but every time. The last thing that I want to have happen is a child enter my classroom and I mess up those first moments by mispronouncing his or her name. I want to get it right the first time. Building relationships with students will be hard to do if I can’t even get their names right.