You were born into them.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
While we were preparing to enter this world, great plans were being drawn up for us. There were hopes, dreams, and visions of the life that we would lay claim to.
Likewise, at the beginning of the school year, we have all kinds of wonderful plans, dreams and visions for our students and our journey together.
With this in mind, one of the first writing activities I do with my students is called “Writing From a Name” taken from Aimee Buckner’s NOTEBOOK KNOW-HOW. The purpose of the strategy is to help students consider the thought process that goes into naming characters in their writing. From a broader perspective, I ask students to do this activity so they have a connection to their roots; so that I have a connection to them; and so that as a class, we forge connections to one another.
Students are asked: “Write about how you got your name, what your name means, and how you feel about your name.”
Here are some of the responses this past year:
My dad named me Advitya because it means second to none. I am the second child in the family so he wanted me to feel unique. It is a very unique name too.
I love my name because of its strong meaning. It gives me courage. Since my name begins with a letter A, I am always first in any list. I am thankful to my dad for giving me this name.
My name means noble or bright. My mom wanted to call me Andrew or Albert. She chose Albert because she thought of Albert Einstein. She wanted me to be very smart like Albert Einstein.
When my mom, was in college, she had a friend named Alyssa. She was funny, nice, smart, and pretty. I consider myself all those things, which I am glad about. I would never want to change my name.
My name “Amanda” means lovable. My mom and dad thought I would be lovable so that is what they named me. Now look at me. I AM lovable. It just turns out mom and dad were right.
Had a shortlist of names and it was the only one they could agree on.
I got my name cause my parents just liked it. I was originally gonna be named Hannah. My parents switched my name on my birth certificate 2 times! My mom said the nurse said are you sure you want Kathy and they were like yeah we’re sure. My name means pure. I really like my name but I would like Hannah more.
My parents where down to 3 names, Sean, Ben, and Fletcher, so my uncle decided to figure out how many professional baseball players were named 1 of the 3 names and most mlb players where named Sean, and thats how I got named.
My parents named me Sourojit. My name, Sourojit, means, protector of the universe. At first it seemed weird, but I finally got used to it. My parents named me Sourojit, because they wanted me to fill up with knowledge of the universe. I really like my name, I do. It’s special to me now that I’ve realized that. It seems to me that names are very powerful. You should realize that. Think about it.
The aspirations, dreams and visions that parents have for each of their precious children are often inscribed into their very names.
Second to none.
Noble and bright.
Protector of the Universe.
This writing activity forces students into conversation with their parents. Many of our writing activities throughout the year do this. I want kids and parents to talk each other. I want them to discuss their thinking with each other. I want them to share their writing with each other. It is a critical dynamic I am trying to establish.
After discussing the origins of their names, (many students for the first time hearing the great ambitions of their parents), my kids return to class with a certain presence.
Their shoulders are back.
Their heads are high.
They are walking taller.
They are smiling wider.
They have swagger.
Audacious dreams. Grand visions. Plans to prosper. Plans to give them a hope and a future.
As educators, we get to be part of that plan. We have the noble honor, and the daunting responsibility, of helping them see that they are second to none. Our words, expressions, and actions must communicate and reflect their brilliance, creativity, and ability. While they are in our classrooms, in our pasture, we are the Protector of their Universe.