Skip to main content

Tips for remembering student names

TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2015 16:39 PM

Being able to recall students' names is extremely important for building a classroom community, from kindergarten through high school. If there is a student whose name you frequently forget or mix up, that student could be in danger of feeling unimportant. It may seem difficult to remember all your students' names, especially during your first few years of teaching, but it's an important skill to master. It's best to vigorously tackle the challenge of learning new names at the beginning of the year by implementing a few techniques to help you remember everyone.

Use a seating chart
Even if you don't plan on having a strict seating arrangement for the whole year, use a seating chart for the first couple weeks of classes. Remembering names is difficult enough without kids switching seats every day.

Have students give their names before answering
For the first week of classes, ask students to say their name before they answer a question. The repetition will make their name stick, and, along with faces, you'll be able to associate a voice with the name. During the second week, switch roles and call the student's name aloud instead of just pointing. Knowing you're going to be tested on their names will make you pay more attention during the first week of classes.  

Add a photo
Ask students to bring a picture of themselves the first week of class or take individual photos of them yourself. Place each image in your roster by the corresponding student's name. Throughout the week you'll be able to reference the book when grading papers to match names with faces and learn all the names faster.

Another place to use images is on certain student assignments, Edutopia noted. For example, if you require students to create an online portfolio for the school year, have them upload an image of themselves of their choosing. The faces will allow you to correlate names every time you grade the portfolios, but various aspects of the images will help you relate the names to students as well.

Implement other abilities
Get creative when you're learning student names and try to use your own personal skills when remembering your class's names. If you're good at drawing, The University of Nebraska suggested sketching a quick picture of each student with a favorite food or animal. If you have an affinity for music, designate your students theme songs that you think match their personalities.

The point is to try different methods until you find the ones that work best for you. Everyone remembers things differently - sometimes simple repetition does the trick, but other times you'll need to get more creative. Play around with some of these tricks and discover what you find most helpful.