Yesterday, a former student in the teaching methods course that I taught last fall reached out to me via e-mail. She is about to start her student-teaching experience and wanted some tips on how to, learn the names of her students faster. Well, in all honesty, this is my number one challenge both personally and professionally. I will never forget someone’s face once we cross paths, but the name is a different story. But since every challenge is always an opportunity to learn, I did offer her the following ideas that help me each school year.
1. Invest on index cards. Write the name of the student beforehand once you received the class rosters, place the cards in a zip lock bag and write the name of the class on the bag with a marker. It keeps them organized and accessible. You may place the index cards on their assigned desk before they arrive to class and collect them at the end. Also, you may assign a student to distribute and put away. The cards also help when picking out names of students randomly to participate in activities.
2. Some teachers use Spanish names. Although I don’t like doing this, it also serves to increase the cultural experience of the students in the classroom. The advantage of this practice is that you can choose the same twenty or thirty names, depending on class sizes and assign them to the students. Instead of learning over a hundred names you just need to remember thirty.
3. On the first day, you may do an activity where students pick a word that starts with the same letter of their name. The phrase in Spanish would be “Me llamo __________ y se escribe con ____ de _________.” It is a fun way to introduce each other, and it is easier to remember the names by associating it with the word they choose.
4. Organize the seating in alphabetical order, call roll each day at the beginning of the class and ask them to say “presente.” The students get to practice Spanish, and it is a structured way to start class, and you review their names.
5. Have a lot of patience and sense of humor!