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Back To School Tip For Teachers - Remembering Student Names

Adam Waxler

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One of the first things teachers need to do every year is get all of their students’ names memorized. It is important for a teacher to know each and every name as quickly as possible.

Knowing the students’ names will help in classroom management AND help foster that all-important student-teacher relationship. Don't underestimate this!

Unfortunately, learning the names of the students is often a difficult task for many teachers to accomplish…especially middle school teachers and high school teachers. Let's face it, if you are an elementary school teacher and have 20 students there is really no excuse for not knowing all their names by the end of the first day…in fact, you should actually know them before the first day.

However, it is a different story with secondary school teachers who may have as many as 140 students and may not get their class list until the morning of the first day of school.

Personally, I am terrible at remembering names. I'm the guy at the party who can't remember a person's name just seconds after being introduced.

However, somehow I am able to learn all 140 names by the second day of school…third the latest.

So how do I do this?

Here are some tips to help teachers remember students’ names:

1. On the first day of school I have each student simply take an index card, fold it in half “hot-dog" style, and write their name on one side. Students then place that index card with their name facing out towards the teacher.

Students are told to place these cards on their desk in the same manner for the first week, but I rarely need it past day 2 or 3.

2. Once the index cards are in place I make sure to use their name EVERY chance I get.

While I am discussing the classroom rules and procedures I make sure to use the students’ names. For example, “When Samantha walks into the room this is what he is going to do"… “This is how Sarah will start on the ‘do now’ assignment on the board"… “At the end of class Greg will write in his planner…"

When I call on students I make sure to use their name…

When I hand something out to the students and I'll say “please pass these back Kailey. "

When a student says “thank you", I say “You're welcome Trina. "

When giving positive feedback I say, “Great answer Jessica…"

When a student asks to use the bathroom, I say “Yes, Jesse…"

Bottom line: use their names at EVERY chance you get. With their index cards out and facing the teacher it is easy to do.

3. Stand at the door when class begins and say “good morning John…good morning Sarah…good morning Liz…" as they enter the classroom.

4. Here is the biggest tip of all…if you really want to get to know the students’ names make sure to use last year's yearbook.

If you are lucky enough to have your class list before school starts then simply spend a few minutes each day going through last year's yearbook and study the faces and names.

This only takes a few minutes and helps so much…I usually have 75% of my class names down before they ever walk in the door for the first class. Then I use the yearbook during those first few days to refresh my memory.

By combining these tips every teacher should be able to learn all their students’ names within the first couple of days.

Again, this will have a huge impact on classroom management as well the student-teacher relationship…which will, in turn, lead to more success for both student and teacher.

If you can't manage your classroom you can't teach! Fortunately, Adam Waxler, a full-time social studies teacher and adjunct education professor, has developed a FREE 5-part classroom management e-course. For more information about this FREE course visit:


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