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Monday, May 03, 2010

They Fooled Me…

I don’t have that gift for remembering names. Whether it’s a curse or gift depends on circumstances.

I’m doomed when it comes to remembering 20-30 names of kids in class that I have just met or haven’t seen for several weeks. Conversely, there seem to be hundreds of kids that know me by sight and name at all the schools I work

When I arrive on campus to pick up the attendance sheet and walk the gauntlet path to my assigned classroom, I’m always greeted by name by students waiting to be allowed on playground before school. I’ll wave back and respond with a non-committal greeting response.

This last month, I’ve been working in the same 5th grade class twice a week while the teacher is getting some kind of medical treatment. After the 2nd week, I could almost put names to faces of about half the class. Even if I couldn’t remember a name, I did recognize the face of every kid that belonged in this class.

It helps remembering names when you have to use them several times a day to get certain people back in the academic instead of entertainment frame of mind. Others I might remember for unusual physical features or characteristics. On the last week of this multi-week assignment, I went to the playground to “collect” my class for the walk to the classroom.

When I was in hearing range, several kids were telling me that they had a new kid in class. Sure enough, the second kid in line was a new face I didn’t recognize.

I said “Hello, What’s your name?” to the newbie boy who gave no response of any kind.

“He doesn’t speak English. He’s from France!” the kid next to him informed me. A quick look at the lesson plan had no notes about a new “French kid” or how I was supposed to work with him.

I’m thinking: “Great! Just great!"

Back at the classroom, I started taking attendance waiting to see which name this kid would respond to.

When I get to “Sam” and the kid responds with “Here!” I repeat the name again using the first and last name I know is absolutely not French in origin and belongs to a kid that doesn't seem to be in class today.

The French kid responds: “Hey Mr. Homework! It’s me! Don’t you recognize me?”

I’m clueless. If I have seen this kid before, I don’t recognize him now.

I take a closer look at “Sam” and remember that “Sam” was the kid I mistook for a girl on that first day because of his long, dark hair, gender neutral build and clothing. He now sports a short haircut and looks totally different. He looks like a boy.

Sam: “I got a haircut because I got tired of everyone thinking I looked like a girl”, he says with a big grin, “Did I fool ya?”

Me: “That you did, Sam. You got me! I just hope I recognize you the next time I’m here”

BTW: This isn’t the first time I had difficulty recognizing boys .vs. girls


Anonymous said...

I believe the head covering is called a Patka.
Enjoyed your post and I also have 'the can't remember anyone's name' curse, along with the 'I called you by the other child's name for the fiftieth time'. Thank goodness, I volunteer with girls because I am sure I would have the trifecta of faux pas.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to me the different kinds of substitute teacher there are out and about. There are people like me who are desperately trying to start a career and there are people like you who, from what I can tell, are subbing to avoid bordom. My father just retired a couple months ago from the local police department after 37 years. I've told him to think about subbing a couple days a week but he seems to think he can fill his days with birding and lunches with friends. I think he find out after a while that he's the type of person that just can't quit working entirely. Though I don't know your motives, perhaps you share a love for work with my dad. Why else would you put up with the embarrassment of forgetting names and dealing with poo?

KauaiMark said...

"...people like me who are desperately trying to start a career and there are people like you who...are subbing to avoid bordom."

While it's true I'm not trying to start a career in teaching, it isn't boredom I'm avoiding.

I think I covered the reasons early on here:

The unemployment rate here is over 12% and the rate for the over 55 crowd is much higher.

Unlike government and public service employees, I didn't get a lifetime pension and full medical coverage after 35yrs on the job.

I sub to pay the premiums for our catastrophic medical policy.

I wish you luck in finding your lifetime career.

Mrs. Awesome said...

I recently found your blog, and I wanted to de-lurk :)

That is too funny. I've had that happen too, except it was a girl with short hair and ambiguous track clothes. I think kids are either going to be like your Sam, and choose to do something about their ambiguous looks, or they won't care about getting misidentified every now and then.

Karen said...

I, too, am not subbing to start a career. I consider it a community service, since the pay hasn't changed in the 10 years I've been doing it. :)
I am blessed to be able to remember names and faces. When one kid tried to tell me he didn't speak English and his friend was pretending to interpret (they are bi-lingual), I looked at him and said, "P.--I had you LAST year! Don't YOU remember?"
THIS is the reason I want seating charts--and the ones with pictures are the BEST!

GT Goddess said...

I have gotten much better at remembering kids' names thanks to the survival instinct of subbing. However, it means that I cannot remember anyone over the age of 18's name to save my life! It's like there is one area of your brain devoted to matching names and faces, and mine is full of random schoolchildren.

KauaiMark said...

"...I believe the head covering is called a Patka."

I tried several Google searches for a name.

Thanks, SINVILLE!!

Unknown said...

I've subbed a 2nd grade class 2 times. There is a girl in the class with an unusual name who dresses like a boy, plays with the boys, is indistinguishable as a girl. I was confused myself for a while until I started picking up kids using the words 'she' or 'her'. One time I asked a group of boys and this girl to get to work. I said, "Ok, guys and ....(her name), get to work." A comment was made and I said, "I didn't say guys, I said guys and ..." She proceeded to inform me that she didn't mind being called a guy and she would rather be a guy than a girl. Ok. It's always interesting. But the young boys with the long flowing hair and baby features confuse me too.

Unknown said...

My dad knows he is extremely fortunate to have a pension. My mother works as a case manager for an insurance company. She hates her job but is too close to retirement to start looking for something else. The reason she dislikes her job so much is that she can't stand all the tricks the company uses to make a profit. By having an inside eye she sees all the things they do that contribute to such high healthcare costs. I feel for ya. Although my dad has a healthy pension his healthcare premiums have skyrocketed since he has retired and they both are living more frugally because of it. Good luck and keep up the good work as a sub!

Anonymous said...

You're welcome, KauaiMark. I enjoy little mysteries and would love a sticky gold star for my work. I was a little deprived of 'les étoiles d'or' in school, and I still hanker for them!