School from home during the pandemic has placed classroom dynamics on full display.
Those typically unseen finer details of the school day have entered the home as overheard teaching methods, plenty of stops and starts and a variety of awkward moments on a 15-25 person video call.
For one father, the new transparency laid bare an upsetting oversight. When he overheard an interaction between his daughter and her teacher, he couldn't help but speak his mind.
But the decision to step in didn't end with a tidy solution to the problem. For him, things became even more infuriating after he became involved.
The ordeal evidently left him at his wits' end, as he later took to the internet to obtain some clarity. He posted on Reddit's "Am I the A**hole" (AITA) subReddit, where he could explain the actions of all involved, and await the online community's variety of hot takes.
He first noticed the problem when something the teacher said caught his attention.
"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."
Dad's first move was to wrap his head around the facts.
"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."
Then he made his first pass at intervening.
"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."
After coming up empty the first time, he planned a second approach.
"I encouraged my daughter to come to class early or stay late, 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."
Again, the attempt produced zero improvement.
In fact, there was a puzzling development.
"So class starts and sure enough she gets called Kelly again almost immediately."
"So there's only so much self advocating a seven-year-old can be expected to do. I just walked over and said, 'Hi, this is Keeley's Dad. Her name's not Kelly. It's Keeley. Hard E. Sorry for any confusion."
"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."
That ominous conference yielded the very opposite of resolution for the child's parents.
"The long and short of the meeting ended up being that 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?"
Reddit was right there with him, appalled at the school's unwavering position.
"NTA," for "Not the A**hole," kicked off a majority of the comments in the thread.
"NTA. Challenge her authority over YOUR child's name? She can fuck right off." -- ObsidianUnicorn
"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." -- OneCatch
"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!" -- ouibuglet
"NTA. Your daughter tried to correct the teacher several times, and you tried to handle it outside of class time to no avail. If the teacher doesn't want to feel disrespected in front of the class they shouldn't deliberately disrespect their students." -- milkywaes
Some comments assured that this was not as trivial an issue as he feared it may have been.
"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. -- littleteacup1976
"Complete NTA! As a teacher I WANT to pronounce the names of the pupils I teach correctly. Personally, I do not feel like your actions were 'drastic' nor that they 'undermined the teacher' in any way."
"I am not a parent. I feel that if a child has asked for their name to be pronounced in a certain way, that this should be honoured by staff and students." -- bilbovander
"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."
"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. -- AJEstes
Others offered advice for more creative solutions.
"NTA- next time request a meeting with the Principal not asst. Principal as that is her senior boss. Scare the sh*t out of all of them." -- nofilter78
"I had a teacher do that to my daughter and she only corrected herself when I started addressing her by the wrong name. Yeah NTA." -- ky_biker
"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.' " -- CoderJoe1
Alas, the discovery came in the final days of the school year.
Any pronunciation improvements would be quite late in the game. But if he did take the Reddit advice to heart, Keeley's future teachers may face a different kind of backlash for a botching her name day in and day out.
*If you enjoyed this article, you can read more like it by clicking on the AITA link below.*