Knowing your students by name is essential to maintaining a successful classroom. The sooner you can learn the names of all of your students the sooner you can build relationships and manage behavior. Learning student names at the grade school level is a little easier than in high school where classes are changing all day, (or college where there’s no quality time) but there are a few strategies that can make learning and remembering names both faster and easier.
Your class roster will hopefully list all of your students and have their names spelled correctly. Depending on how you go about taking attendance the roster will be your best aid to learning their names. In lower school settings teachers often have the advantage of seeing their students for the entire day. This means they can arrange desks or tables with labels ahead of time and make seating charts even before meeting their students.
Seating charts are not only a great help for learning the names of students, they are an important tool in managing classroom behavior. Even if the seating chart is not filled in ahead of time a temporary chart can be used on the first day of class to note the names of students and to help plan what seating arrangement will work out best in the future.
Giving students name tags is another good way to learn their names. Allowing the students to decorate their name tags themselves with markers, crayons and/or stickers can be incorporated into a lesson plan and you will begin to learn a little something about them and how they express themselves.
During the course of the first day, if you are going to be reading in class or doing any kind of academic work or other activities you can begin to learn students’ names by choosing a name from the roster instead of asking students to raise their hands to participate. The more often you say your students’ names the sooner they will begin to stick in your memory.
Using cooperative games and activities in the classroom from the first day not only helps in learning students’ names, allows you to begin get to know your students and them to learn about each other. The chosen activity can be as simple as passing or tossing around a ball and having the catching student introduce themselves and say something about who they are or what they want to be when they grow up.
Relationships are key to effectively managing the classroom and achieving success with students. Learning the names of students right away is the first step towards achieving goals in the classroom.