This little scene popped into my head months ago and I’ve been holding it close. I can picture these precious people in their standard public school classroom so clearly and I hope I’ve given them justice. The beginning of this school year in the States was anything but ideal. But we can still do small things to honor and celebrate each other and, as teachers, to celebrate our students.
“Good morning, everybody!” the teacher called out cheerfully, sailing into the room. With the door closed again, the teacher stood at the front of the classroom in a blue dress and a smile.
“Oh, it’s so nice to see your lovely faces! Welcome to the new school year. My name is Ms. Trundle and my preferred pronouns are she, her. You can call me Ms. Trundle or Ms. T.” She paused to smile around the room with genuine joy.
“I’m not planning on doing assigned seats, so feel free to sit wherever you want. If you would like to reserve a seat, just let us know.” There was some chuckling, so she clarified. “Some students prefer to sit in the same seat every day, which is no problem with us, right?” Some of the students nodded. “Right.” She smiled again and picked up a clipboard from her desk.
“Okay, so I’m going to start with attendance so I can start to learn all of your names. I will read from the list. When I call your name please let me know if you’d like to be called something other than the name I’ve called and your preferred pronouns. You can either sit or stand.”
As Ms. Trundle started to call the students’ names, Luz was nervous. Their leg was bouncing under their desk. They reviewed the pep talk their mom had given them before school that morning. “Every day is a new chance to become more of the glorious human you were born to be. This is another brave step forward. You can do this.”
Ms. Trundle called Luz’s name – “Lucia Gloriana Maria Vazquez.”
Luz stood up, smoothed their hands on their jeans. They swallowed, and then raised their head to look their new teacher in the eye. Boldly, Luz said, for the first time, “Luz, please. They, them.” The teacher nodded once and made a note on her clipboard before moving on to the next student. Luz let out a deep breath. Easy as that.
Luz was pretty sure that their best friend, Bran, would be cool, but as soon as they were seated they looked back and to their left, where Bran was sitting. Bran smiled and gave Luz a thumbs up. Luz beamed. This was going to be a good year.