Importance of Names

A totally cool thing happened in class with names today. A new student from Congo has this name in Congo:

Tag (given to him in Paris) Rolde (first first name) Gloire (second first name) Gabell (first last name) Deconoix (second last name). Well, did we have a time with that. In English. When we get to know our students, when we personalize our classrooms and make our kids understand that we care about them, we must use English, in my opinion.

We had to ask him which one he wanted to use now in his new country. He said he hadn’t thought about any of this and told everyone here at Lincoln that his first name was Deconoix, which is not true. So we kept asking (in English, I don’t care) which ones would become his American name. He finally settled on Gloire Gabell. We all applauded. I told him it is going to be a strong name for him in his new incarnation as an American.

We must never forget the power there is in names to bring the fabric of happiness and inclusion into a class. We can do a class on names anytime. We keep talking about 90% of use of TL in the classroom but I say that this is a huge exception. We can never talk about their names enough. Names are one of the golden keys to the kids’ hearts and to a fully personalized classroom in which people feel relaxed being with one another.

Gloire is new to the U.S. but now there is a group of Mexican American kids who get who he is and care about him and he now has a home base in our school. I will bring him into the class as a writer of French and when we do R and D translation of chapter books he will read French (he is fluent but not literate) while hearing English. My boss will ask me if I differentiate. I will say yes.

A wonderful moment happened when Miguel Cabrera started saying his name – of which Miguel is the first and Cabrera is the last. He said his five part name in about 1.5 seconds.  And there was Gloire, who spent the entire first semester isolated in the school (I didn’t even know he was a student, our school is so big) and was beginning to become a concern for the administrators as a loner, who is not a loner anymore. Is this not a great job we have?

Of course, there is the entire “naming the kid” in the TL piece as well, connected to this topic. For more on that, see this link, scroll down to the section called “The Name Game” on page 22 –





1 thought on “Importance of Names”

  1. Oh yes! We have a student who is so poor that his mom doesn’t allow him to read at night because of the energy costs of the light bulb. He loves reading even though he is dyslexic and he loves animals even more. He knows so much about animals, he got the name “animal explorer” and whenever there’s a question about animals, he is asked. The others also put him in their stories whenever there’s a zoo, etc. He is suddenly the authority figure on animals in the classroom.

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