The student-teacher-parent relationship can be a tricky one as it involves three different people with varying pressures and objectives. While they should be allies in getting the kid in question educated sometimes parents and teachers step on each other’s toes or even butt heads in the process.
So when a parent posed the question in Reddit’s Am I The Assh*le? subreddit about whether they’d wronged their child’s teacher by correcting them on the girl’s name people had some thoughts.
First the father explained the situation. His kid is attending online classes like everyone else during the coronavirus quarantine and he heard the teacher calling her “Kelly” instead of “Keeley” which had apparently been going on for a while.
“My 7 year old daughter’s doing virtual school in our living room recently. I heard her teacher address a girl named Kelly a few times, which stuck out to me because my daughter’s class is only about 15 kids and I know them all by this point in the year.
A couple times more and I realized she was calling my daughter Kelly. My daughter’s name is Keeley, pronounced Kee-Lee.
So after school was over I asked her if that had been happening all year in this teacher’s class and she said it had and it really annoyed her. I asked her why she hadn’t corrected the teacher if it annoyed her so much and she said she had repeatedly at the beginning of the year but the teacher kept calling her Kelly, so eventually she gave up on reminding her.”
After learning that this bothered his child (understandably) he sent the teacher an email about it, which seems perfectly reasonable.
“I sent the teacher a quick email explaining the misunderstanding but got no response. This teacher teaches a special subject (think music, gym, art, or language), not just one grade level, so my daughter will be in her classes for the next several years, so we couldn’t just wait it out. And how moments like these are handled now will set the stage for how my kid deals with similar situations on her own in the working world.
I encouraged my daughter to come to class early or stay late her again, thinking maybe she hadn’t heard or understood her last time, so a quiet one on one would be better.
She got to the class early and she told her very politely that her name was “Keeley like really, instead of Kelly like jelly” and that people often get it confused so she just wanted to clarify.
So class starts and sure enough she gets called Kelly again almost immediately. So there’s only so much self advocation a seven year old can be expected to do. I just walked over and said ‘Hi, this is Keeley’s Dad. Her’s name not Kelly. It’s Keeley. Hard E. Sorry for any confusion.'”
This is where things got slightly heated. After his daughter corrected the teacher on how to say her name, at her father’s urging, and the mispronunciation continued, Dad leaped into the fray. …Which the school apparently didn’t appreciate. BUSTED.
“A few hours later I had an email in my inbox “inviting” my wife and I to a parent teacher conference with the vice principle.
The long and short of the meeting ended up being the school feels that while the teacher probably should’ve learned her name, that the real problem is she feels I challenged her authority by correcting her in class and that the names were “similar enough” for it to “not have warranted such drastic action.”
That surprised me. I couldn’t believe a meeting was necessary, let alone that it cast blame on us.
I can’t tell if I’m being that annoying “my kid matters most” parent that my grandmother the schoolteacher always complained about or if the teacher should just learn her damn name because that’s a basic part of her job. AITA?”
Frankly this doesn’t sound like a huge deal but it could be interpreted in different ways, so let’s see what the sages of the internet had to say on the question of whether this protective father is TA (The Assh*ole) or NTA (Not The Assh*le).
The response was overwhelming and clear: the original poster (OP) was definitely NOT the assh*le.
NTA. That’s ridiculous. You were teaching your daughter to stand up for herself, and you also showed her that when she needs your support, you’re there. It’s outrageous for a vice principal to suggest that you correcting the pronunciation of your daughter’s name (after she had already tried multiple times herself AND you had tried via email!) is “drastic” action.
NTA at all! Good for you correcting her! Seems like she just couldn’t be bothered to learn the correct way to say her name! And what a pretty name too!
I would add to this that OP had actually attempted to address the situation in an email that received no response and as such this wash an appropriate next step to address the issue. OP was just teaching a kid to follow up!
NTA. Incorrect authority doesn’t have authority. And honestly if teacher’s authority is fragile enough that being gently corrected over something damages it, teacher has bigger problems.
”We don’t feel it’s inappropriate for our daughter to politely correct grown ups when they make mistakes – we encourage her to be honest and open with people generally and this is a part of that. We also feel that it’s important for children to be raised to be well-adjusted to adult life and the world of work. In adult life, it is not considered rude or ‘drastic’ to politely correct a misspelling or mispronunciation of one’s name, so we don’t feel that a bad example was set here. If ever you have concerns about rudeness or disrespectful behaviour we would of course like to know, but cannot agree that anything she or I said to date could be characterised as rude or disrespectful.”
If you really want to wind them up, append this onto the end:
”We of course will speak to our daughter to ensure that she’s aware that some people are more sensitive than others, and things which are entirely innocent to most may unexpectedly offend some people – and the importance of seeking to smooth things over in the event that inadvertent offence is caused by an innocuous comment”
A few teachers chimed in to give their opinion.
NTA. I think that meeting was unnecessary and probably was escalated by the teacher. She could have spoken to you directly without the principal. As an educator who teaches kids English from foreign countries I make it a point to learn their given names even if they informally adopt an English name.
I teach kids your daughter’s age and it makes them feel valued when I call them by name. Keeley is not a difficult name. And if they say it’s close enough to Kelly then they can definitely learn it quickly.
NTA – I’m a teacher, and a teacher who is TERRIBLE at remembering and saying names correctly. I’m the worst.
I have told my students repeatedly, from day one, that if I ever get their names wrong to tell me immediately.
I was absolutely devastated when I found out I had been pronouncing a students name – “Jonah” – completely wrong. I was pronouncing it biblically “Joe – nah” but the actual name was “John – ah”. I apologized to the student and their family during our parent teacher conference.
Teachers must, absolutely must, have a relationship built on trust with their student and students’ families. Getting names correct is literally the first and most critical step in this process.
NTA, and shame on that teacher and admin. While I appreciate when admin supports a teacher, in this situation the goal should have been building reconciliation, not offering excuses.
Overall there wasn’t much sympathy for the defensive, name-forgetting instructor.
If she didnt want to be called out publicly she should have listened when it was still privately. NTA. I would not have left that meeting with the blaim on me when the teacher couldnt be bothered to take the private correction seriously.
Hmmm, maybe if she had listened and corrected it at the beginning of the year, you wouldn’t have had to intervene. Maybe if she had paid attention to the private email that you sent her, you wouldn’t have felt the need to correct her in the moment.
The real problem is that the teacher and the school are taking a fundamental part of a kid’s identity, and telling her that it doesn’t matter, that she isn’t important enough for them to take the 2 frickin’ seconds that it would take to learn your child’s name.
You are NTA. They need to figure it out and you need to keep pushing it until they do. Turn it around on them. They will either show themselves to be hypocrites because they feel that you are disrespectful, or they will start to get it.
NTA. Challenge her authority over YOUR child’s name? She can fuck right off.
Some proposed strategies and advised fighting fire with fire, or in this case incorrect name with incorrect name.
NTA – I would instruct my daughter to ignore any statements the teacher made to the wrong name. After the teacher gets frustrated she should then explain, “Oh, I only answer to Keeley as that’s my name.”
Just do it in a way that mimics what they do to your daughter. Mrs Smith – Mrs. Smythe. I mean it’s close enough right?
I had a teacher repeatedly call me by my younger sister’s name. She stopped when I started calling her by her maiden name(just got married that summer between school years). Point taken, it seems.
Others advocated fighting back by going over the name-forgetter’s head. Case closed.
NTA- next time request a meeting with the Principal not asst Princible as that is her senior boss. Scare the shit out of all of them.
Nothing gets the point across while flipping the bird politely like well written passive aggression. OP, youre NTA, and make sure the VP knows that your daughter felt very badly that her teacher couldnt remember her name, and how upset it made her that the teacher thought that light of her. And feel free to pull a power move and request the principle sit in on this meeting as well.