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Successful School Year Tip #1: Learn Your Students’ Names

September 6, 2017

Some of the most effective tactics we can employ in our classrooms are the easiest to implement. Everyone deserves to be valued, and that includes having their names both remembered and pronounced correctly. I will admit that one of my biggest challenges as a teacher was and remains learning my students’ names. It’s extremely challenging for middle school and high school educators and elementary specialist teachers.  My most useful strategy is still #10, a picture roster.

Ten Tips for Learning Student Names

  1. Study the class list before you see the students and rehearse aloud each student’s name.
  2. Use name tags or name tents during the first week of class.
  3. Construct a seating chart and ask students to sit in the same place for at least the first week.
  4. Circle of Names – Make a circle in the classroom. Think of something that starts with your first initial. Teacher starts by telling what they picked and then add it to their name, example… my name starts with a L so I picked Lucky Linda. Next person would then say Lucky Linda, followed by their adjective and name. The next person would then say the first then second then theirs…on so on. By the time you go around you have heard each name several times and with that you remember names of your students.
  5. Focus only on first names.
  6. As you take attendance during the first week of school, say each student’s name deliberately and look at the student. Ask students to help with or correct your pronunciation.
  7. While you take attendance, write something specific about each student to help you remember his or her name. (This will help you really know the student and build relationships.)
  8. At the end of the first class, attempt to say every student’s name.  If you can’t remember a student’s name, ask that student for the first letter, second letter, until you can remember the name.
  9. Let your students know you are actively trying to remember their names.  If you can’t remember a student’s name, just ask!  Students will really appreciate your effort to remember their names.
  10. Use a picture roster. Your school may already have student photos available online in your student management system. If not, use time the first day of school to take photos and add them to your class list. Review these before and after class and have it on your desk for quick reference. You can use the digital photos throughout the year for various student projects.
Neiman, L.
(Updated  by Carpenter, L. 9/6/2017.)




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