Hello everyone! My name is Andrew Thomas Kemp. My parents gave me that name because they thought it would sound good if I ever became president. My middle name, Thomas, was my paternal grandfather’s name. His name was Thomas Eugene Kemp. While I was born with the name Andrew, I go by Drew to people that know me. Andrew is my professional name (for scholarship), but people I know call me Drew. And, I am Drew. While I love my name (there aren’t that many Drews out there), it was problematic when I was a child because it happens to rhyme with something that children loved to taunt me with. Yet, I am still Drew. I am not Andy. I am not AT. Just, Drew.
You might be wondering why I am sharing this.
We are teacher educators. Our job is to help create fantastic teachers. Our job is to create teachers that teach all children. When I say that, I mean all children. And those teachers that we are helping to become teachers (and ourselves) must respect the identity of each and every student that we have. What does that mean? We must learn to pronounce names. We must teach our students to pronounce names. We must learn to not make a subtle face (microaggression) when we read a name that is odd (I have had students names Tekela, Porsche, Korvette, and Thorn Bush). We all identify with our names.
At the same time, we all identify with our pronouns. I am a he/him/his. My wife is a she/her/hers. However, there are people that identify with other pronouns and we, as educators, must respect those identities.
In our department, we have a student that uses the pronouns they/them/theirs. This is how they identify themselves. This is their identity. This is who they are. I know for some people this is awkward or problematic. Don’t let it be. It is a name. It is personal. They work in our department. They deserve our respect.
And this goes for everyone you meet. When you meet someone, you won’t know her/his/their name. You ask. You introduce. At the same time you won’t know how she/him/they identify. You might get it wrong. If corrected, you need to respect that and work to use the preferred pronoun.
We, as teacher educators, have the responsibility to not only teach all students, but to respect all students. And each other.
If you have questions about this, please feel free to come and talk to me.
Have a wonderful Friday!