Micro aggression 1: A students name can be minimized to accommodate the educator

Micro aggression 1: A students name can be minimized to accommodate the educator

“I’m gonna call you J, okay?” 
“Wow that’s quite a name. Do you have a nickname?”

All of these statements are usually couched with a big smile and a cavalier , but jovial attitude. “ Make it easy for me kid, we don’t have names like that where I’m from.”


plural noun: microaggressions
  1. a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.
    These microaggressions are usually done in an attempt to make life easy and is unintentional. I want to believe that NO teacher wants to make their kids feel insignificant. I am ,however , making an assumption here. MANY people are aware of what they are doing and make jokes about weird names. “ Ka- what!?  Spell it for me? What kind of name???? Hahaha”. Then we walk away and it’s on to the next activity, thought or paper to grade. We’ve all heard it , seen it or possibly done it.
    And they can be funny , the names. However, like in the illustration, these microaggressions, though seemingly harmless cut deep in the mind of a child and can trigger lots of negativity and loss of self worth. Many parents have to build up their kids at home daily after they’ve been broken down with these microaggressions from the one who is acting in “ loco parentis.”  Teachers, have we forgotten what that means? Here’s one better... what if a teacher “nicknamed” YOUR kid because they thought the name you picked was far too cumbersome for everyone in the room? 

    My fellow teacher friends, let’s honor our kids. In a culturally relevant and responsive class, it is our duty to understand , learn and appreciate the culture of those we teach. Building a relationship with students is not just about making friends, it’s about honor. It’s about respect. Kids need that and they deserve it.
    So here are some steps to rid yourself of Microaggression One: 
    1. Acknowledge the action and check it
    2. Learn the child’s name even if you practice daily
    3. Apologize if you keep messing it up. It’s ok. Kids love it when their teacher is vulnerable.
    4. Develop a deep respect for your students. Believe it or not, they aren’t our subordinates. 
    5. Act in “loco parentis” always. You are their parent away from home. How would you want your kid treated? Now, do THAT.  

    Once you have the light, walk therein.
    Comments are welcome!
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1 comment

I am so glad that you wrote this. My first year teaching 3rd grade, I called a child’s first name and paused at the last name. The child looked down at the floor, instead of at me, and softly suggested that I called him _______ O. When asked why, he said that his teachers always say that his last name is “too hard,” so they began to call him ___ O.
It angered me that someone told him that and that he even hung his head when he told you to call use O instead of his name.
I lifted his head and told him that it was his name and it was his job to let people know it was important. I asked him to teach me how to say it and reminded him that ANYTIME someone says it wrong, he was to correct them. He helped me practice it everyday until I said it correctly. I called him by his FULL name often.
I hope that he carries that with him forever! Hos name is strong and powerful and it is not his job to make someone wlse “comfortable” with an alternative. #saymyname


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