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.