How To Remember Students Names Quickly

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Remembering your students’ names is very important in order to create a good rapport in the classroom. Even if you feel anxious about learning students’ names each semester, you have to realize memorizing students’ names quickly reduces feelings of nervousness that most students experience meeting a new teacher.

on-postibLibraryThere are numerous tools that can help you to memorize new students’ names. Some methods work better for smaller classes, while others can be successful implemented in large classes. If you want to find the most suitable method for your classroom, you will have to experiment and go through trial and error.

Here are the best tools for learning students’ names:

1. Ask your students to choose a seat (or assign it by yourself) that they are going to sit in for the first few weeks until you have memorized their names and faces.

2. Use seating chart with photos. To help you remember students’ names quickly, create a board with a seating chart. Take photos of each child and place their photos next to their name on your seating chart. This will help you correlate names with faces.

3. For the first week, ask students to wear name tags or place them on the table during the class.

Read More: First Day As A Teacher: How To Introduce Yourself To the Class?

4. There are a few effective ways to use associations to remember the names: Create a rhyme to each student’s name. Funny rhymes will help you to learn names quickly. For example, Kim is slim, Jake likes cake. Make a few notes next to the students names associated with their appearance, like Jim – big nose, Alice – short dark hair,

5. Play the Name Circles Game. It’s a good exercise to improve yours and the student’s memory. Students sit in a circle. The teacher says his/her name, where he/she is from, and his/her favorite English word. Then, the next student says information followed by teacher’s information. The last student attempts to name the information of everyone in the room.

5. Group students in pairs and ask each student to introduce his/her partner by giving the partner’s name and identifying one unique trait of the partner.

Try some of these name learning exercises to not only memorize students names, but also to break the ice.

Have you ever used some of these strategies? Do you have some other techniques that work well for you? Please, share with us in the comment section below.

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6 Comments

  1. I stand outside the door and greet each student by name. If I don’t remember their name I will stop them and ask for a hint, like the first letter. Other teachers are always impressed I have the names of my students down within 1-2 weeks.

  2. Have students walk past an iPad/video camera and introduce themselves so that you have a class audio visual that you can play in down time or at home. Another is a variation on the pair share where students begin in pairs and then go to fours introducing themselves and then their partners to each other and then to the class. The teacher can record these as well to have some background on each student – could include birthdays so that these can be celebrated during the year. At one school the office admin presented class lists with photo ID of each student – security conscious school that paid off extra benefits.

  3. These private notes to remember the student’s name would best be hidden so no one else can see them. Writing down an unflattering description like “big nose” would be hurtful if anyone saw it, like another student.

  4. Holly Dilatush on

    Similar to what others have shared, the use of photos helps immensely (and is so easy with digital options).

    I hope my notes below give someone a new idea, or a tweak adaptation to try, no matter what size your class is, no matter what age the students are:

    If many of the students are new to each other as well as to you, of course one can have ample supplies of colored markers/pens and have each student make a name tag (even as an adult, I enjoy this option. I always draw a flower on my tag). Bring a large ziplock bag and collect all the name tags, DURING this first class, after walking around the room a bit, greeting, making eye contact, repeating their names (“Welcome, Marina” and so on), and perhaps practicing a firm handshake, (if appropriate for the group involved). After greeting each student, collect his/her name tag.

    Then, as an additional activity and assist:

    Having a collection of common objects in the room (ensuring there is something that begins with each letter of the alphabet), you can incorporate an activity where everyone is asked to walk around the room, looking for an object (or picture of an object) that begins with the first letter of their name. Try for vocabulary that will have some relevance for your age group).

    [Prior to class, have a list prepared A to Z with the names of the objects, and refer students to it as a guide if they need help.]

    A apples antlers avocado
    B ball bluebird bridge
    C camera candle cheshire cat
    [and so on]

    Encourage ‘sharing’ (two or more students whose names ─ or the nickname they prefer you call them by ─ begin with S might share a stapler, for example).
    Then take photos with the students smiling as they display their object. You’ll have a visual cue to help you memorize names a bit faster by photos.

    Next, for a first practice of learning their names, as they are with their ‘alphabet objects’, pull their names from your ziplock bag and see if you can remember/identify with the object clues…

    [If you draw out a name “Blanca” or “Bruce” you of course will look for students holding your pre-selected ‘B’ object(s). And so on.]

    Ask for student volunteers to take photos, or to draw out the next name tag.

    If your group is large, if you need a time-filler activity while you’re returning name tags, have post-its available and challenge everyone to find other objects in the room that begin with the first letters of their names, and to write labels for them accordingly, from wherever they are sitting/standing. (This gives everyone permission to be looking in any and every direction, observing each other and their new class environment. This alone can ease minds!).

    If it seems appropriate, you can ask everyone to bring in an object that begins with the first letter of their name as a homework challenge.

    Then, the next class day, you can try again to match name tags with faces and introduce more vocabulary with the objects students bring in.

    [Sometimes these objects help everyone learn more about each other, too, and help cultivate classroom community.]

    I miss the real classroom (Can you tell?).

    I’ve been teaching almost exclusively online for over seven years now.

    Learning to remember not only the preferred names of learners (oftentimes by voice only, as not everyone is comfortable with web cameras), as well as Skype IDs, G+ names, Facebook names usernames on our site, and ‘real’ names… is a challenge too!

    ~ Holly

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