Many years ago, when I first began teaching as a part-time instructor, I taught an English class devoted to spelling. Now, I am not a natural speller, having learned many of the rules out of necessity for myself, so I took to teaching this short class well, knowing how useful spelling rules are.(Never a Q without a U). Before I was hired full time, I taught the class a few times, along with grammar and punctuation.
But the first time I taught spelling, I walked into the classroom, opened up my roster, and began to call roll. After a couple of names, I got to Bong, Bing Bing.
I said it again, loving this name. He'd already raised his hand the first time I said it, and did so again. The native speakers in the class smiled as I said his name once again, this time in the correct order: Bing Bing Bong.
Needless to say, after two classes, Bing Bing dropped. Who could handle a teacher having such a love affair with a name?
Every single semester since, when I open up a fresh roster sheet, I think of Bing Bing Bong. Where have you gone, Bing Bing?
Yesterday was the first day of the new semester, and I have some great student names to say, though none with the joyful, pleasant alliteration of Bing Bing Bong. Actually, I can't really say their names right. No one seems to be able to, so Joo Hyuk becomes Joe. Min-Jung is Michael. But Muizz is Moo-ease, please, thank you very much. And I will say it like that, Moo-ease.
What I also realized is that when I don't recognize a name, can't form an image or a feeling about it, I can't "see" the student the same way. Or it takes more time. Now I have had Dong Chul in two classes, and I "see" him. But it took a while. Maybe these students understand that our brains can't wrap around their names in the same way, so they opt for Dave, Jessica, Irene, and Sarah. Or they ask us to call them by their last names. I had a student last semester I just called "Moon." Like all students, my international students want to be seen and understood.
Names and teaching online is worse for me as there is no "body" associated with the name. So Jinho, Hyun Joo, Hyunmin, and Jungyeun sort of blend together in a swirl of H's and J's.
But let me tell you this, writers, there is nothing like a roster for last names to give to characters! Balousek, Cleveland, Filippi, Hagebush, Heriyanto, Muchmore, Pratchard, Trestrail. You have to love it.
Okay, off to read some student work!
But first, a moment to consider Bing Bing Bong.
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