‘What’s your name again?’ I looked around to see who the little girl was talking to. I thought it odd that she didn’t know her friends’ names after a year in the reception class. She tapped me on the back again, ‘No I’m talking to you, what’s your name?’ I was so taken aback by her manner I forgot my own name in that moment. All I wanted to do was laugh! I clearly took far too long to respond as she turned impatiently to a friend and asked ‘Do you know her name?’. I knew that laughing aloud would give her the wrong message. If I ignored her cheekiness she would think it acceptable for her to address not just me but other teachers and friends in the same way.
So I modelled a suitably polite response; ‘Excuse me, what is your name please?’ The child retorted, “My name is Amy, who are you again?” It was time to be more specific. When I forget a child’s name, I put on my best teacher voice and I ask them nicely; “Excuse me, what is your name please?”. But for Amy, Year One was clearly less entertaining than her experiences in Reception so she turned away from me and disappeared into the chaos of the first day in her new class.
Of course it was a new setting for her. An unfamiliar teacher, a first day with little structure. It’s pretty daunting for teachers too. When the alarm sounds we know that in that instant a new academic year begins. We are responsible for a fresh bunch of little people. We have to make sure they develop and grow, learn new life and communication skills.
For Amy her first day in a new class was about having a good time and learning names. But my job is to help her progress by learning that there are expectations in the classroom that she has to appreciate. I do not believe we can be effectively responsible for children unless we teach them boundaries and help them understand expectations. Nothing can be achieved on the first day of school, maybe nothing much will be changed within the first month. But we have to quickly clarify our expectations of behaviour and ensure that our children are aware of their importance.
Meanwhile on day two I hear Amy from across the class. “You? What’s your name again?. I had to laugh.