A name is a powerful thing. A name defines you as an individual, a person, unique and wholly your own. Names help you connect and build relationships with others. Names are so important to me in my role as a teacher. Learning each child’s name, nick names and proper pronunciation is one of my first tasks. We greet each other by name each morning and learn many academic concepts in the context of our own names.
My name is Layla Cunningham. I introduce myself to the children as Layla…just Layla. I prefer the children call me Layla for several reasons. For me it is a way to communicate that our classroom is a collaboration, learning and teaching are something we all do, and that no one person is higher than anyone else. I am our leader, responsible and trustworthy, but not the most important person in the room. Going by my first name literally and symbolically takes me off the pedestal.
Of course, I don’t mind being called Miss Layla, or Mrs. Cunningham. Those are my names too. But I invite you, and your child to call me Layla. In doing so, I invite you all to join me on this journey of learning as partners and equals.