Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Not the Boss

One day, I had the eighth graders make "pull cards". (Note: the week kind of ran together, so I don't recall which day this was.)

Sometimes, it's nice to call on students randomly. The best randomization method I've run across is having a stack of cards with all the students' names. I can then pull one from the stack (shuffling it before I do so), and whichever student's name comes up is called on.

Some teachers have them. Some don't. When I start a class, I make sure to get some made.

I passed out index cards to all the students, and I had them write their names on them. But, I told them to write the name they wanted to be called on it (along with their "official" roster names). 

Some students shorten their names. Some go by their middle names. There's one girl whose preferred name is something I've never heard of before (it sounds vaguely Hawaiian). I try to use their preferred names in class. There's no reason to not to.

Most of the time.

On Wednesday, we read the story "The Monkey's Paw". (They're doing a unit on suspense.) After, I had questions. I pulled a card...

It was Leroy's card. In the middle, it had an arrow pointing to the name with "prefer to be called". And the name was... Boss. 

No. Just no. 

I am not calling a thirteen-year-old child "Boss". 

Sure, there may be a great story behind it. If I knew him beyond the classroom, I might feel differently. But we've just started the school year, and I'm trying to establish myself as the authority. This is a challenge as a sub with eighth graders in the best of times. Using "boss" in this situation just seems like a terrible idea.

I pulled his card. I saw the name. I called him "Leroy". 

He answered.


  1. When I was in law school, some of my teachers used index cards to pick students to randomly call on too.

  2. Good way to call on kids. And no, not calling one Boss either.

  3. I would've been tempted to call him Boss Baby! LOL

  4. LOL. As soon as I read that you asked them to write down what they wanted to be called, I knew you'd end up with something like 'Boss'. :)

  5. Oh yeah, teen boys will push the boundaries with something like that. There's always one!

  6. I don't recall anything like that going on in school
    Coffee is on and stay safe

  7. Fun to read their antics. They do try to get one over.

  8. I don't remember any of my teachers using pull cards, so you would end up with the same 5 or 6 students raising their hand. I was never great at class participation (shyness was part of it) even if I knew the answer, so a pull card system actually may have helped me out some. But calling a student "boss"? Nope.

    1. This is why I love the pull cards. It's always just the same three or four (if I'm lucky) students volunteering. I'd rather everyone get a chance. And this makes is equitable. I'm not picking on anyone.


I appreciate your comments.

I respond to comments* via email, unless your profile email is not enabled. Then, I'll reply in the comment thread. Eventually. Probably.

*Exception: I do not respond to "what if?" comments, but I do read them all. Those questions are open to your interpretation, and I don't wish to limit your imagination by what I thought the question was supposed to be.