Taking Attendance and Pronouncing Names In Seventh Grade

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       September 17, 2016

                            

Three and a half days of seventh grade substitute teaching this week! Each night I would crawl into bed shortly after nine o’clock like an old dog on his last legs.

“Lord, thank you for getting me through this day! I ask that you help me forget that I’m almost 62 and a half years old as I try to play six periods of kickball tomorrow. Amen and Lights Out!”

One of the most demanding tasks of substitute teaching for seventh graders is taking attendance. No…no, it isn’t the figuring out who is there and who isn’t there! The demanding task is figuring out how to SAY some of the names.

Back in the day…that is, back when I was growing up names were uncomplicated. My classmates included Mark, Dave, Mike, Tommy, Cindy, Danny, Tim, Joyce, and Betty. My college basketball team was composed of Scott, Bernie, Stan, Tim, Tom, Mark, Cary, Jeff, and Dave.

Growing up my early years in Kentucky made things a bit more complicated because everyone had two names. I was Billy Dean…although my Aunt Irene spelled it “Billie Dean!” My brother was Charles Dewey and my sister was Rena Lou. All my cousins on my mom’s side were referred to with two names, except Annette whose unofficial middle name was “Ornery!” Her brother was Danny Michael, and then there was my cousin John Jerry and Barbara Gale and Johnny Carol.

But notice that all of those names can be said without an interpreter!

Saying names for a seventh grade class today could be a game show kind of like “Name That Tune!” There were simple ones that could be decoded quickly. “Dave” could be made out from “Dayyve”, and “Michael” from “Mickull”. But then there were others that defied logic. When some of these students were named at birth the parents must have been strategizing on how to make taking attendance for school teachers a challenge.

I did have a William in my last class yesterday, but after class he informed me that his full name was something like “William Herzog Fitzpatrick Dominic Smith the Fourth.”

On a couple of names I assumed the wrong gender for the student. When one student didn’t answer quickly and I asked “Is he here today?”, I was informed by the class that the he is a she. My bad!

My most challenging student of the week tried to disguise who he was in, but even a first year seminary student could decipher the true identity of the name “Looseifore!”

Students know the awkwardness of names. They were already clued in on what Epiforditora’s nickname was. “E.P.” flowed easily for those familiar with him. One boy suggested that I just give each student a nickname like “Spike”, “Four Eyes”, and “Pee Wee.” If we’d have had more time I probably would have gone in that direction. After all, I was nicknamed “Beowulf” my sophomore year of high school when my English Literature class was studying that ancient epic story. One of my Ironton High School fellow journeyers hit upon it. “Hey! Bill Wolfe…Beowulf!” The class agreed! Shortly after that just like Epiforditora got shortened to “E.P.”, “Beowulf” got reduced to “Beo.” My old classmate, Jim Payne, still refers to me by that forty-five year old nickname!

I did have a few name victories. One young lady’s eyes lit up out of shocked delight that I had actually pronounced her four-syllable first name correctly. She should have been surprised because the mess of letters that it contained reminded me of a Scrabble tile holder when the letters are first placed on it in random order.

Of course, Carol and I can’t plead total innocence in this “naming” area. We named our first child “Kecia Corin Wolfe.” Her first name has been mispronounced more often than the Thai menu items I try to order. When I called Carol’s parents at two o’clock in the morning to tell them that they had been blessed with their first granddaughter her dad’s response to the name was “What!!! Quiche Lorraine!!!”

Our second child brought us back to normalcy…David Charles Wolfe!

Explore posts in the same categories: children, Community, Grandchildren, Humor, Parenting, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

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