Opinion
Equity & Diversity Letter to the Editor

Correct Name Pronunciation Aids Classroom Management

July 19, 2016 1 min read

To the Editor:

Regarding the article “Bungling Student Names: A Slight That Stings,” I spent 11 years of my life as a daily full-time substitute, known as an occasional teacher, in a school district just north of Toronto, Canada, with a large and very ethnically diverse student population. China (mainland and Hong Kong), India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Japan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Russia, and many other countries were represented in the student population.

When I take attendance in a new classroom, I have learned the importance of pronouncing each name correctly. I have heard the class laughter and witnessed the embarrassment of the student whose name I have mispronounced. I have also seen the relief when I have said a student’s name correctly.

I read the attendance aloud to myself, alone, before class to make sure I am comfortable with the names and know how to pronounce them. If I find a particularly difficult name, I ask a neighboring teacher, or one of the other students as the class enters the class. I do this quietly and unobtrusively. I then take attendance reading the names slowly and clearly, and if there is a chance that thepronunciation is ambiguous (to me), I give alternative ways to the student and politely ask which one is right. If there is confusion, I ask the student to say his or her name.

I am touched by the look of relief in students’ faces when their names are said correctly and often I hear the comment “You’re the first OT [substitute teacher] to get my name right!” When I really stumble over a name, I apologize immediately and make sure all laughter stops. In doing all this, I let the students see and know that I care about them because I have learned to say their names correctly. The bonus is that classroom-management issues are severely reduced.

Dirk Mast

Covenant Global School

Toronto, Canada

A version of this article appeared in the July 20, 2016 edition of Education Week as Correct Name Pronunciation Aids Classroom Management

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Opinion Are Our Schools Any Closer to Equity?
Schools are trying to focus on equity, but a slew of new legislation is preventing that focus from becoming a reality.
Sean Slade & Alyssa Gallagher
4 min read
E20D8BC6 ED5F 43B7 817C 5FA00DCA5904
Shutterstock
Equity & Diversity Spotlight Spotlight on Critical Race Theory
In this Spotlight, learn what critical race theory is, what it isn't, and how it's a practice, not a curriculum.
Illustrations.
Mary Hassdyk for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion I Am an Indian American Man. I Had Anti-Racist Work to Do
When adults reflect on who they are and where they come from, their awareness leads to better learning outcomes for their students.
Anil Hurkadli
5 min read
Abstract drawing of the profile of a head, clouds of thoughts and radiance from the eyes.
Elena Medvedeva/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Equity & Diversity American Indian Mascots Will Soon Be Banned in Colorado Public Schools
Colorado would become the fifth state to get rid of derogatory mascots.
Saja Hindi, The Denver Post
2 min read
Students walk into Loveland High School, past a sign at the entrance bearing the image of the school mascot, a Native American, in Loveland, Colo. on Sept. 11, 2014.
Students walk into Loveland High School, past a sign at the entrance bearing the image of the school mascot, a Native American, in Loveland, Colo.
Brennan Linsley/AP