I teach 216 students each day! I know! It’s virtually an impossible task! The public school system is just set up this way, and it has never made any sense to me.
As a result, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and never learn all those kiddos’ names.
In order to create any sense of real BELONGING in my classroom (or in yours), names have to be learned and remembered. Not only do I as the teacher need to know my students’ names, but I strongly believe they need to learn each others’ names as well.
(I know this seems like common sense, but many of my students report that they have teachers who NEVER learn their names. They also report not knowing the names of their classmates in other classes, even at the very end of the school year.)
My students make their own nametags and place them on their desks in front of them. Initially, I have them share their names and each of the 3 symbols they’ve chosen to represent what is important to them.
Then I systematically memorize their names while they are working on other assignments. This year, they were reading and annotating “Lessons From Skateboarders” by Richard Sagor. I quietly go around the room until I have all the names memorized. Then I ask them to hide their nametags.
They are shocked when I’m able to point at them and say their names.
But my kiddos can be pranksters, and while I was stating the names of one table group, another group behind me decided to switch places.
I didn’t flinch!
I said their names, and then told them they were “messing with the wrong teacher!” We all laughed!
Next, we do this “pop up” exercise where they randomly raise their hands around the room and I yell out their names!
I’m about 98% accurate the first time around. But I have to do this for several days in a row for it to stick.
It takes practice and a strong desire to know them to help me get their names right on a daily basis, but it’s not impossible!