What's in a name?
Names are identifiers. They help us have a sense of who we are: our culture, our personal history, and can be deeply personal. They can also help connect us to others. Now, that sounds serious, and while it can be....it can also be fun, too!
Creating group names
You can use names in the choral classroom in a lot different ways. Many teachers get input from their students about the name of their different ensembles. But, have you ever considered letting each class come up with their own team names?
Last year at an all-county, the director let the group come up with ideas, and then vote on their final team name for the duration of the event. It was totally silly, and totally something I wanted to adapt for my own classes. Here's how I do it:
First, present the idea. I like to work it into my explanation on classroom procedures and expectations by saying that we work together as a team in choir, so we need a team name. Then, I take time to let anyone suggest an option for a name: it has to be school appropriate, and it can be silly or serious. After we fill up the board with suggestions (they usually get really into it), we do our first round of voting.
Narrowing your options
During the first round, I let students raise their hands to vote multiple times to pick their top five/10, etc. I tally votes next to each suggestion as I go, and when we get through the entire list, I eliminate all other options besides the top choices.
Once we have only the top choices remaining, students get to vote a second time for JUST their favorite name. To keep things semi-anonymous, I ask students to close their eyes and put their heads down when voting each round so they don't feel judged by other classmates for the options they pick.
We've got a name: now what?
I've been tying the team name to my points system for class incentives. With how my current schedule works, my students don't associate having my class with "3rd period" or "7th period," so it's easier to keep track of each class by their name. Here are some names my classes have come up with so far:
Squidward's Left Pinky Toe
Spooky Dookie (this class has an inside joke about this name)
Big Hunky Abs
Powder Puff Girls
Take it the extra mile
With one group, I made custom team name signs on Canva and surprised them. It would be fun to do this and include in the room on things like folders, turn-in boxes, etc.
On a more serious note: Naming your ensembles
You can definitely involve your students in a similar manner when naming your ensembles. I would suggest prompting students to think about their goals for the choir, the types of voices/people in the ensemble, or even provide a list that you've already created, and let them choose from there.
Does it actually make a difference?
Weirdly, I'd say it does. If you've been following along for awhile, you know that I've been using a public points system with my students for years. But having that group identifier just helps unify each class a little more, and also helps them engage in a little good natured trash talking when discussing who will earn donuts at the end of the month. Food for thought!