How to Learn Students’ Names Quickly

The root of individuality starts with a name. Do you go by your middle name? Is the first name OK? What about a nickname? Knowing, and then remembering, someone’s name indicates respect and instills a feeling of “You are worth remembering.” Knowing names means establishing a community—something that’s important for many educators to establish with their students.

To that end, here are some tips for remembering your students’ names quickly when school starts up again! Good luck!

  • With your roster sheet in hand, greet each student at the door and ask for their name. As you check off their name, look back and forth between the name on the sheet and their face to really cement the connection in your brain.
  • Use the time just before and after class to study a few names at a time. Break it down even further by inviting students to your office in small groups to learn a bit more about them, or split students into small groups during class. In short: start by learning a few at a time!
  • Use a student’s name whenever possible, and ask students to say their names every time they speak. After they say their name, say it back to them. This also allows you to confirm that your pronunciation is correct.
  • Try linking a word that begins with the same consonant as the student’s first name, but make sure it’s something positive!
  • Play name games, such as “Name Toss,” which is similar to the tip mentioned above, only this time the students are doing it, too. From TeacherVision, “On an 8x8 note card, ask everyone to write one word that begins with the first letter of their first name that reflects something about them (i.e., Carol = creative). In a circle, ask everyone to say their name, the word, and the connection they have to the word. Place the cards in the center of the circle. Using a timer, ask for three volunteers to see how long it will take them to return the correct card to the person who wrote it. Do this a number of times to see if successive groups can beat the previous time.”
  • Involve the students (they need to know each other’s names, too, right?). Students can write something about themselves to share with the class, or pair up the students and give them a few minutes to “interview” each other and then take turns sharing with the class. Suggest to the students that they tell you something about themselves that makes their names more memorable—such as where they’re from, what they like to do, etc.
  • Feeling ambitious? Try this strategy by blogger Love, Teach that involves name tags, three minutes to memorize names, and a timed guessing session.

What strategies do you use to remember names? If you try these, let us know if they worked! Best of luck on this new school year.

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