Learn student names super quickly with our top tips and tricks we have learnt over the years.
Using and remembering names is a really important for various reasons:
- It also helps your students feel valued, seen, confident and safe
- It creates a classroom community from day 1
- As you start to learn names, classroom management will become easier.
As teachers we need to have the skill of learning a lot of names quickly and this is definitely not something covered in our teaching degree. So we wanted to share some strategies that work for us (because as we tell our students, sharing is caring).
8 Ways to Help Learn Student Names in 1 Day:
This is my go-to strategy to learn student names.
The very first thing I do on the first day of school is ask the students to sit in a circle. Then we go around the circle and the students share each name and a fact about themselves – as the teacher you need to use the fact and try to associate it with something in your life / mind. For Example: Tommy is tall, Romey loves riding her horse and has red hair.
Teacher vs Students Remembering Game
To follow up, I play a game to continue to learn student names. The students sit back in the original circle and I (as the teacher) have to try and remember as many names as I possibly can. If I get stuck, I get them to remind me of the fact they shared about themselves to help me remember.
We jot down how many names I got correct and then after lunch on the same day we play again and I see if I can beat my score. If I haven’t got it by the end of day 1, we will play on Day 2 until I have all the names mastered.
The kids love the pressure this game puts on you!
Cheat with Desk Tags
This one is a little bit cheeky, but we are sharing anything that is going to help you learn student names quickly!
As you walk around the classroom as the students are working over the first few days, purposefully use their names by looking at their desk tag or pencil cases as a prompt. The location of where they are sitting will help over time too.
This is my go-to strategy when I am teaching a class casually.
We love a good icebreaker! They are a great way to start to develop your class community and get to know your students, but they will also help you learn student names too.
Some of our favourites for name learning include:
Class Name Find-a-Word
This is such a fun idea and is a wonderful way for you and your students to get to know everyone’s names. Because you are creating the find-a-word, you will already begin to get familiar with the names of the students in your class before you even meet them.
You could use the find-a-word template by placing it on students desks as they enter the classroom on the first day, as an icebreaker activity, as a first week homework activity, as part of a back to school gift or even as a fast finisher activity.
We think it is fun to do the find-a-word at the same time as your students. Every time you find a name, you can call it out and make a connection between the name and the face.
The Rule of Excess
Using your students’ names constantly and on repeat within that first week is going to have you learning their names a lot more quickly. It is the rule of excess – the more you use your students’ names the easier it is going to remember them.
Repeating names as students work on their ‘All About Me Tasks’ or using their names as you hang work can also help!
Have a Class Seating Chart
Create a seating chart with students’ names and refer to it often. If you are a visual learner, use the seating chart to visualise where each student is located in the classroom.
Take a Class Photo
I used to do this with my Kindergarten students during their orientation. We would take a class photo and I would print the photo, label it with their names and keep it on my fridge at home. It may seem a little over the top to some, but for me, it was important that I knew their names as they arrived on Day 1.
You could make this class photo something you do on the first day of school and then on the final day of school, you could give each students a copy!
Using and remembering names is a really important part of your classroom community. Remember, consistency is key. The more you actively engage with students’ names, the quicker you’ll be at learning and remembering them.
Additionally, expressing genuine interest in your students and their lives can make the process more enjoyable and memorable. Let us know if you use any of these tips to learn student names this year!
Don’t forget to grab your free class name find-a-word here!
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