names

soilrockslove:

Finding out about nicknames respectfully

realsocialskills:

I recently started substitute teaching, and I’m wondering about calling students by nicknames. Specifically, I’m wondering when to ask if a student has a nickname. So far, I usually just ask “do you go by (name on the roll)?” when a kid’s…

soilrockslove said:

Yeah, I’ve worked in elementary schools before, and asking the whole class if they have any nicknames usually works fine!

But asking specific kids can be hurtful.  Especially if they have a name from another culture, because sometimes they’ve had lots of people complain how “hard” their name is and it becomes a sore point. :/

And there will probably be an occasional kid who asks to be called “Batman” or something - but that usually works out fine too!  Usually they really enjoy getting to be “Batman” for a day and have a lot of fun!

alexfienemann:

Finding out about nicknames respectfully

realsocialskills:

I recently started substitute teaching, and I’m wondering about calling students by nicknames. Specifically, I’m wondering when to ask if a student has a nickname. So far, I usually just ask “do you go by (name on the roll)?” when a kid’s…

alexfienemann said:

I have been teaching middle school for eight years.  All I do, the very first time I meet a class and take attendance, is ask them to tell me if they go by another name, like their middle name, a shortened version of their name, or a nickname, or if I pronounced their name incorrectly.  I also tell them that calling them by the right name is very important to me.  They respond very well to this.

ischemgeek:

Finding out about nicknames respectfully

realsocialskills:

I recently started substitute teaching, and I’m wondering about calling students by nicknames. Specifically, I’m wondering when to ask if a student has a nickname. So far, I usually just ask “do you go by (name on the roll)?” when a kid’s…

ischemgeek said:

I teach martial arts and I also TA courses.

If I can get a list of names ahead of time, I do. Then I Google the pronunciations of any names that are unfamiliar to me before class. If the name has more than one possible pronunciation, I note them both and make a note on the list to ask which pronunciation is correct. Many websites exist with sound recordings of how to pronounce different names. If I can’t find it, I make do with the phonetic pronunciation, though this doesn’t work as well for tonal names.

If the class is big, I announce at the start, “My name is [my name]. I know it’s annoying to have your name mispronounced. If I don’t say your name right, let me know either by email, coming up to me after class, or speaking to me immediately, whichever you prefer. It might take me a few tries because I’m bad at learning names, but I will get your name right. As well, if there’s something you’d prefer me to call you, let me know however you prefer.”

And then I move on. I don’t do an attendance list in big classes because  I know that it can out trans students. If attendance taking is mandatory (usually not), I’ll send around a sign-in sheet instead. Sure, it’s a bit more work to transcribe it, but if it keeps people safe, it’s worth it. If I do send around a sign-in sheet, I ask people to write it with their nickname, and either put their legal name in brackets or come up to me afterwards.

In big classes, people will usually come up and tell me after the lecture what they’d like me to call them - I write it down on my enrollment sheet, next to their legal name, and I ask them to sign everything with their nickname (seeing names in writing helps me learn them - I’m a very visual learner).

In small classes, I go up to the person and introduce myself. “Hi, I’m [my name], one of the instructors here. Nice to meet you.” They will usually introduce themselves with whatever they like to be called. “Hi, I’m [their name].”

The other thing I do is keep to my word that I will get people’s names right. I’ll keep practicing until I do. We had a kid in my martial arts class recently who had a name that sounded like two other names. It took me four tries to get her name right because I was having a bad auditory processing day and at first I missed a sound and then I could not get the sounds in the right order, but I got it right eventually. People usually don’t mind too much if you’re sincerely trying (I won’t lie: they do mind a bit because they probably have to put up with this more often than not when they meet new people, but they appreciate that you’re not going to just rename them for your convenience and that you’re putting effort in to learn their name).

Important: Thank the person for their patience after you’ve learned how to say the name. From experience: It’s aggravating to always have to correct how people pronounce your name, even if they don’t mean anything by it. A “Thanks for being patient with me!” helps a lot - showing appreciation tells me that you actually give a damn about me and my time, and it tells me that you know you imposed a bit.

And note to teachers: I’ve never found that making sure I get names right undermines me with students. I know some people are worried about that when they ask students to teach them how to say stuff. It doesn’t - if anything, they respect me more because they know I care more about getting it right than I do about how I look.

Finding out about nicknames respectfully

I recently started substitute teaching, and I’m wondering about calling students by nicknames. Specifically, I’m wondering when to ask if a student has a nickname. So far, I usually just ask “do you go by (name on the roll)?” when a kid’s name seems long or unusual, but I’m worried that might be rude to assume they’d go by something else. Any suggestions?
realsocialskills said:
  
It’s not a good idea to single particular kids out to ask them about nicknames. 
  
Particularly since doing so is likely to be racist (whether or not you mean it that way). Kids with WASPy names are allowed to use their names, and are able to expect that teachers will pronounce them correctly. Kids whose names aren’t WASPy are often pressured to either go by nicknames or allow teachers to mispronounce their names. It’s easy to end up putting pressure on those kids if you single them out, even if all you 
   
There are a couple of better options for finding out if there are kids who go by nicknames:
 
Option #1: Announce at the beginning of roll call that kids should let you know if they go by a nickname, then assume they will tell you. 
 
Option #2: Ask *every* kid what they go by. Eg:
  • “Alexander Smith?”
  • “Here”
  • “What should I call you?" 
If you do either of these things, sometimes kids who like to mess with substitute teachers might tell you that they go by something ridiculous as a prank. I’m not sure what the best way to handle this is. My guess is that so long as they’re not asking you to call them something insulting, it’s better to just go with it. I don’t think it would do any real harm to spend a day calling a kid Batman; it would do harm to argue with a kid about their actual name. But that’s a guess, and I’d welcome input from folks who actually have dealt with this situation.
  
Option #3: Look for clues in the environment. If you are in an elementary school classroom, a lot of things will have students’ names on them, and they will probably be the names students actually go by. If there is a behavior chart/wheel (not a good thing, but they’re common), it will have students names on it. Student cubbies (and possibly coat hooks) will be labelled with their names. There might be a shelf of folders with their names. If you can find something like that, it might work to take roll with that in addition to or instead of the official list.
Teachers and especially substitute teachers, what do y'all think? How do you find out about nicknames without singling any kids out?

Not a question. Just something that works for me. If I’ve met someone very recently and asked them their name, and I meet them again and am not sure whether I remember their name, I say “I’ve already forgotten your name – unless it’s Patty.” Sometimes I get the name right and sometimes I don’t, but we usually both laugh together a bit, which is nice, and it gives the other person a chance to ask what my name is again too.
realsocialskills said:
Wow. That hadn’t occurred to me, but I can see how it might work. I’ll have to try that. Has it worked for any of y'all?

Respect names

This is something that often happens in English-speaking schools to kids from other cultures:

  • A kid has a non-English name
  • The teacher decides it would be better if they had an English name
  • They give the kid a different name, and refuse to call them their actual name
  • Or heavily pressure the kid into changing their name

This also happens to some kids in foster care. Their foster parents or social workers will decide that their name is a problem, and assign them a different name.

Some reasons adults in power will cite for doing this to kids in their care:

  • The name is hard to pronounce
  • Other kids make fun of the name
  • A kid with a non-English name will feel different from the other kids
  • Having a different name will make it easier for the kid to assimilate into English-speaking culture
  • And then the teacher makes the kid use a different name, one that’s more usual in English

Don’t do this. Names are important. It’s not ok to change someone else’s name.

It’s actually *more* important not to change a kid’s name if other kids are making fun of it, because:

  • You’re teaching the kid that their name is wrong
  • And that it’s their own fault they’re being bullied, that it’s because they’re weird
  • It also teaches the bullies that it’s ok to bully people for having weird names, and that they’re entitled to have other people erase themselves for their sake
  • A kid who is being bullied for their name will also be bullied for other things, especially if they are from a non-English-speaking culture
  • Changing the kid’s name will not stop this, it will just make the rest of it harder to take

Names are important. Respecting someone’s name is part of respecting them as a person. It’s not ok to change their name for your convenience.

name changes for private reasons

lunethefool asked realsocialskills:

…TW for CSA, abuse: I was sexually abused by my mother for years when I was a kid. She named me after her illicit lover, and I kind of hate that sometimes because that’s how she treated me too. I want to change my name, at least socially if not legally, but I don’t know how to explain the change. I’m not comfortable telling everyone the truth.

First and foremost, you don’t owe people an explanation, and you don’t have to offer one. Some people will want to ask invasive questions, but you don’t have to answer.

In my experience (as someone who’s been through a couple of name changes), people are usually much more curious about your new name than they are about your reasons for changing it. For that reason, I would suggest that you consider picking a new name that is *not* symbolically related to the abuse you experienced, or to anything else painful. I find it much more comfortable to deal with discussing my name now that I’ve changed it to something easily explained without reference to any of my painful reasons for changing it.

Also, if you coin a new word to name yourself, it will sound ethnic to people who treat folks outside their group as self-narrating zoo exhibits, and they will ask you invasive questions about your background. You might decide that’s ok with you, but it’s something to be aware of. I wasn’t really prepared for how draining that was when I had that kind of name.

If you choose a name that sounds like a hippie name, people will ask you if you had hippie parents. If you’re changing your name because of parental abuse, this might be worth avoiding.

A friend of mine once suggested this script for a man who wanted to change his name legally:

  • Why do you want to change your name?
  • “For spiritual reasons.”
  • What are they?
  • “I can’t really tell you much about that.”

This worked well for him in court. It might also work well interpersonally. I’m not sure. What works for me is to have a very short explanation, and not offer further details.

Some possibilities:

  • I go by x now. 
  • I actually go by x now.
  • I’m changing my name to x in honor of my grandfather.
  • I’ve decided to go by my middle name.
  • I’m using my religious name now (actual religious names have specific words used to refer to them, but I don’t know what they’re called for very many religions).
  • I wanted to reconnect with my heritage, so I’m going by x now.

If you want people to stay out of it, don’t give them a way into it. It’s probably better not to tell them that you have painful history with your original name, because some people will take that as an invitation to evaluate your decision. The only way to win that game is not to play. You don’t have to discuss it with anyone. I don’t discuss my names with very many people. Push come to shove, all they really need to know is what name you prefer to be called by.

On names

On names

Some people have names that other people joke about a lot.

For instance, if you have the same name as a famous celebrity.

Or the same unusual last name.

Or a vaguely similar last name.

Or a name that sounds like a pun.

Or a name that’s sort of similar to a swear. Or a word that sounds like a swear if you’re 7 and aren’t allowed to say real swears.

These jokes aren’t very funny, and they are *especially* unfunny when they’ve been repeated hundreds of times. Anyone with that kind of name has heard jokes about it many, many times, and is probably sick of it.

So if you meet a new person with that kind of name, don’t comment on it, because commenting on it is likely to annoy them and unlikely to do anything good. (But if they make a joke about it, it’s ok to be amused). 

Social skills for autonomous people: On names

chavisory:

realsocialskills:

Some people have names that other people joke about a lot.

For instance, if you have the same name as a famous celebrity.

Or the same unusual last name.

Or a vaguely similar last name.

Or a name that sounds like a pun.

Or a name that’s sort of similar to a swear. Or a word that sounds like a…

chavisory said:

I have a last name that’s easy to joke about.  There are about two major jokes that it’s possible to make about my name, both involving movie characters.  And it’s fine, I don’t mind (though I agree that generally, you should probably stay away from joking about the names of people you don’t know well).

Just don’t expect me to react as if you’re being creative and original.

There are two jokes to make about my name.  And everyone makes them.

Trust me, I have heard it before.

realsocialskills said:

Yes, this. I don’t think most people find this seriously offensive. It’s just annoying, especially if people expect you to find it clever.