It’s a common predicament for educators. They familiarize themselves with students quickly, but can’t easily retrieve names on demand. The crush of first week stress compounds the problem by redirecting blood for a fight or flight response, dulling teachers’ focus. And biology does us no favors by storing visual information and names in separate parts of the brain.
Some teachers turn to awkward work-arounds. But “Hey, Boss!” or “Good to see you!” are obvious giveaways, and “Can you spell your name for me?” might be answered with “M-i-k-e.”
Here’s the secret: take the same enthusiasm you have for baseball statistics, or civil war battles, or Christian Louboutin shoe prices, or Kardashian trivia, and apply it to learning students’ names. Everybody has a good memory for things that interest them, according to Richard Harris, a Kansas State University psychology professor. So instead of kicking over your inner shame bucket, take a fanatical interest in connecting with your students and their names.
To help you out even more, we’ve prepared a short cheat sheet of effective tactics for imprinting students’ names onto your brain.
What techniques do you use to remember students’ names?
In This Series
- Developing Students' Trust: The Key to a Learning Partnership
- Back to School: 3 Question Activities to Connect Students
- Empathy: The Most Important Back-to-School Supply
- "What Did You Call Me?" – How to Remember Students’ Names
- The Science Behind Classroom Norming
- The Research Behind Social and Emotional Learning
- Self-Assessment Inspires Learning
- Relationship Building Through Culturally Responsive Classroom Management