Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Memorizing Names

I have the WORST time trying to remember names. It's not just in the classroom--I struggle to remember names when I meet someone in social situations as well. I often tell my students to please not be offended if I forget their names at the beginning of the quarter. Details about the person are easy; sometimes I can even quote a line out of their most recent essays to them, but I'll blank on their names. Just because it's hard for me, though, doesn't mean I'm off the hook.

My school's policy is that by the second class period, we have to have our students' names down. It's not just the policy that matters. Students aren't going to feel like a teacher cares if he or she can't address them by name, so I had to figure out something. A fellow teacher suggested a seating chart, but that didn't work for me because I didn't want to be looking down at it during class, and I can't memorize their names under pressure.

So, here's what I came up with: On the first day of class, everyone writes their names on a piece of paper in big, black letters. Then I take their "mug shots" in groups or individually, however they are the most comfortable. This is also a great icebreaker. Some act shy about it, but really, they love it. I let them know that the pictures are for my eyes only, and just for a few days. Then, after the first day of school, I can memorize everyone's name without the pressure of doing it in the classroom. Sometimes I have a hundred students, so it's no easy task, but it's worth it. Every student deserves, and should expect, that a teacher knows his or her name.


  1. Great tip. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Oh I love this idea! I moved from 6th to 7th last year, so it was easy, I knew their names. I've been a little nervous about this year.

  3. Good idea! The older I get, the more all the names start swirling together.