Being called names is not a new thing for me. When I was in elementary school, I was called "Shelly Belly with a bowl full of jelly" and "Shelly Legweak" (my maiden name is Armstrong). I never remember being too upset by those, as I never felt any of those names were meant to be ugly. I suppose I was either naive or I simply felt fairly comfortable in my own legweak skin. :)
In more recent years, I have been called "your mother" by my dear husband, Dave, many, many times. Most of those times have been when I have resembled her in some personality traits that we used to make fun of. When Mother set her mind to something, she wouldn't waiver from it, despite logical evidence that would suggest the contrary. For instance, Mother weighed in at 100 pounds at her heaviest weight ever. After she had her voice box removed due to cancer of the larynx, she weighed in around 90 - 95 pounds. Despite her tiny frame, she would often ask for Diet Dr. Pepper and Light Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream. It simply didn't make any sense to us, but she wouldn't change her mind. In an effort to save money on electricity, she would also keep her air conditioning off, even in Florida's hot and humid summers (sometimes upwards of 95 degrees outside and inside the house). So, when I have moments in which I say to Dave, "I can't just run three miles; it has to be four" or "I want a Diet Coke but it needs to be a fountain soda with crushed ice", it is truly no surprise when he says, "Okay Helen" or "your mother". But, once again, I am really okay with that, especially since I believe it is a daughter's destiny to become her mother, despite any attempts to fend off the title.
Recently, however, new names have emerged in the work I am so blessed to do, helping teachers, administrators, schools, and districts in their quest to become more adept at aiding teacher growth. A couple of weeks ago, I was working with administrators on how to have conversations with their teachers after watching the teachers' classroom practice. I was modeling conversations with teachers, and I was so excited to see teachers show the ability to notice their own strengths and growth areas when simply presented with the data we had captured coupled with questions that encouraged them to think quite deeply about their own teaching. After one such reflection conference, one of the administrators said, "I just wrote down: Shelly is Queen of the Seque". She and others said they felt that, when a teacher might begin to stray from keeping the main thing the main thing, I was able to get them back on target with a simple yet complex question such as, "Speaking of grouping of students, in what ways do you group your students for maximum engagement?" I have simply been amazed at the way teachers talk about their practice when asked to do so.
Another administrator later that week called me "Finesse Master", even though I am afraid Dave would sometimes call that finessing that I do in conversations either "nosy" or "manipulative" (name-calling is not always nice, is it?). This administrator was saying, "I feel like I am trying to ask the teacher the same type of questions, but you finesse the conversation to get them to see the patterns you are noticing as well". I truly believe I still have a lot to learn, but I do know that I am passionate about wanting teachers to have more voice than we, as administrators, do in reflection conversations. After all, the ones who do the most thinking and talking are quite likely to do the most learning, right?
So, for today, I am fine with being called names, as long as those names reflect who I actually am and what I do. What names are you called, and what are your feelings about them?