I work part-time at an elementary school during the school year. I work with small groups of students who are referred to me for social skills and school adjustment issues. This is a job I practically fell into a few years ago, and I absolutely LOVE it! There is an energy around the school that is addictive, like that morning cup of coffee. OK, I still need the morning cup of coffee (maybe even MORE than I used to) but humor me here.
Due to the nature of my job, I have the opportunity to work with many different students throughout the year, from many different classes and all grades, kindergarten-5th. This past school year, I was working at two different sites, which exposed me to many more children than in previous years.
This makes a simple trip to Target or the grocery store more interesting.
I am WAY more likely to see a kid from school now, and not always one of “my” students. Since I go to classrooms to pick up my students for their half hour sessions, the WHOLE CLASS sees me (and knows my name). I, however, do not know all of THEIR names.
This can be a problem.
So I have adopted the somewhat casual, easy method of dealing with all of those KIDS WHO HAVE NO NAME. Girls are Sweetie. Boys are Bud. Maybe Dude, if they are 4th/5th graders.
I DO know the names of any kids who have been in my groups, even if I have to dig for it a bit. This past school year, I saw over 70 students. But all of their classmates? Now that would be hard. So Sweetie and Bud seem to have been the classmates of many, many of my students. This has worked so far.
Until I visited the grocery store a few weeks ago.
And there is a sweet little girl (Sweetie?) staring at me, open-mouthed, amazed that I actually SHOP FOR FOOD and don’t live off the scraps from the cafeteria, roll out my sleeping bag each night in the library, and brush my teeth in the girl’s bathroom. And she says, “Hi, Mrs. K!”
“Don’t you remember my name?”
“Sure I do, sweetie, how has your summer been?”
“You don’t remember my name.”
“How could I forget your name?” Easily, apparently. Especially since I didn’t know it in the first place.
And then, like a small gift from the heavens, she shifts focus……
“Did you see Mrs. D over by the bananas?” Mrs. D is a teacher from our school.
“No, really? I will have to go say hi!! Have a great summer, sweetie!”
At least I didn’t call her Bud.