Getting to Know All of Your Students

As the first quarter of the school year comes to a close, I usually find that I still don’t know all of my students’ names. Yes, this is somewhat forgiveable, considering that at the secondary level we have somewhere around two-hundred names to remember, but I want to stop having that awkward moment when I pull a student’s card (I use stacks of 3×5 cards to randomly call on students) only to find that I’m not sure who I’m calling on.

To remedy this, around this time each year I sit down with my roster and go through the listing for each class, reading through the names and trying to picture each student’s face in my mind. If I can’t picture the student, I highlight his or her name on my seating chart.

Over the following week or so, I make a point of greeting each of these students, using the student’s name in my greeting, of course. During class, I purposely call on them from time to time as well, whether or not it is their turn to share, to better get to know these students.

When it comes time to rearrange my seating chart, I place these students near the front of the room and engage in conversation with them whenever I have a chance: “What book are you reading?” or “How’s everything going?” For many of these students, this is my first conversation with them beyond just a greeting at the door.

This strategy works. I’m in the process of getting to know the last few students in my classes now.

When I was in school, I was the quiet kid who tried to slip through the cracks. I remember those teachers who took the time to get to know me, and I was more appreciative and hard-working for those teachers. I’d like to be that kind of teacher.


2 thoughts on “Getting to Know All of Your Students

  1. I have an activity I do at the beginning of the term with my middle school students. I have them come up with an alliterative adjective to go with their name, which also describes themselves. For example, “Mindful May” or “Jaded John.” Then we play a game where the first person says their name to the class. We go down the rows, but each student must say all the previous names before them, ending with their own. It’s a memory game for the students and they enjoy it. But the best thing is that at the end, I make myself say the names of everyone in class, using the mnemonic device of the adjectives. I can usually name everyone in the class.

    I find that these names stick in my head and I am able to memorize about 50% of my students names just on the first day. Then I use some of the strategies that you mentioned in your post, and I have their names down pretty early on.

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