Saturday, April 12, 2014

What's In A Name?

It's a pretty common question, I suppose.  Why names matter.  How they "fit."  All that good stuff.  This morning I had a little soap-box moment while walking my dog, aptly named Sparky Anderson.

Sparky is a rescue.  I got him when he was four and a half.  His name at the time was Porky.  This morning, while we were out for a stroll on this oh-so-lovely spring day, I was watching him.  He's a bit of an odd pup, preferring to wrestle me for a dead leaf than eat any food scraps he might come across.  But in my eyes, he is SUCH a Sparky!  He bounces around, hurling his nine pound body as fast as he can to chase bits of invisible fluff in the air.  And when we reach a certain point in our walk, when the house is in sight, we play our little game.  All I have to say is "one……" and he's no longer the respectful walker at the end of the leash, instead, he becomes a racehorse, pressing against the starting gate.  "…..two……" he looks back at me and bounces in circles.  "….three!" I drop the leash and he races off to the door where he patiently waits for me to catch up.

What's this got to do with education?  I'm getting there.  Actually, I'm there.

My dog is SUCH a Sparky!  He lives up to that name with every fiber of his being.  Even when he's sleeping on my feet (as he is now) his wild mess of fur is quite Sparky.

My class is called the Thinkers.  I decided on that name when, after four years of teaching third grade with "no" class name, I got tired of hearing my students ask what "we" could be.  They wanted things like "Ms. Diem's Dinosaurs" or "Ms. Diem's Devils" none of which were very fitting.  "D" just isn't one of those last names that goes well with a "thing" like that.  (Trust me, it's a problem I've been battling since childhood, when all my friends were making little trinket boxes called "Stacey's Stuff" and the like.)

That's when I decided if I was going to succumb to peer pressure, it was going to be a powerful name.  Something my students could live and become, not just an animal (though quite cute in younger grades!) The Thinkers were then born.  It was quite perfect, actually, Ms. Diem's Third Grade Thinkers.  Being a Thinker is a learner profile trait that we emphasis school-wide, and here my class was, calling themselves Thinkers right off the bat!

Though I now teach fourth grade, I kept the name Thinkers because it is just too good to change.  It's so true, too.  Watching my Thinkers pose problems for each other, inquire, research, act, learn, grow, THINK is so rewarding!  I feel like now, more than ever, the name fits, as we're doing so many new (to me) things that are carrying the Thinkers into the future, where they'll be the ones shaping it into some not-yet-thought-of masterpiece of thoughtfulness!

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