Needs Focused Teaching

5 Techniques for Learning Student Names Quickly!

Want a way to connect with your students? Then what better way than learning the names of your new students as quickly as possible. Here are 5 tips to help you achieve just that…

1. Name Chain
Ask each student in turn to share his/her name and the names of people who have already introduced themselves. E.g. Person 1 says their name, person 2 then gives the first person’s name as well as their own name and so on. As the chain becomes longer there will be more names to remember but they will have been repeated more often.
Extra: Turn it into an alliterative chain by asking each student to use an adjective before their name that begins with the same letter. E.g. ‘This is Lucky Lee and my name is Rowdy Rob”.

2. Memorable Pictures
This is my favourite and is the one I use most often working with new groups.
You can learn a class of 40 names in one lesson – it’s all just a matter of making time to learn the names and concentrating for a few minutes at a time on this single task.
The principle behind this is that it is easier to remember pictures than words and once you get into the habit of doing this you’ll be amazed how powerful it is. Start by drawing a seating plan – a quick sketch of the seating layout in the room with enough space to write each student’s name in the picture of their seat.
Give the students a simple and enjoyable ten minute task – some brain-teasers or questionnaires which will occupy them without needing your assistance or attention. You want them quiet for ten minutes. Go round the class introducing yourself, checking their names off the register and adding their names to the seating plan.
Once that’s done the fun starts. Whilst the students are working, take a name from the seating plan and find the individual in the sea of nameless heads. All you do now is link a crazy picture with their name in your head. It should take no more than thirty seconds per student and the crazier the picture the better.
For example, if a child’s name is Robert, in my mind I might put them behind bars or in hand-cuffs as a ‘robber’. Then I’d spend 30 seconds concentrating on their face and the new image – once you cement that image in your mind, it’s hard to forget their name. Really simple, really works.

3. Name Toss
Have class members stand in a circle with one person holding a soft ball, bean bag or similar object. The student holding the object states their name and then throws it to another member in the circle. The ‘catcher’ then gives their name as they throw it to someone else. This is repeated until everyone has introduced themselves (you might give them a sticker once they’ve done this so that everyone can see who has been asked and who hasn’t.
Next, ask one of the students to say the name of another group member and then throw the object to this person. The catcher then repeats the name of the person who threw them the object and says the name of another group member before throwing the object to this person. And so on.

4. Name Bingo
Prepare a blank Bingo form – 3×3 squares for groups of less than ten, 5×5 for groups of 25 or less, 6×6 for groups of 36 or less etc.
Get the group to mill around the room, meet each other and exchange names. Have them write the name of each person they meet in a separate square on their Bingo form. Tell them to put a ‘zero’ in all the squares that are unused at the end of the ‘meeting’ session.
Put everyone’s name on a separate piece of paper in a hat and as the hat is passed round the group each person takes a turn of drawing one name out and reading the name out loud.
Everyone crosses off the name on their form as it is read out and yells ‘Bingo!’ whenever they get 4, 5 or 6 squares in a row (depending on the group size and number of squares on their form). Everyone will get Bingo several times and everyone is involved throughout.

5. Personalized Name Tags
Provide materials so that each student can develop a name tag that uses any of the following:
A picture of a hobby, interest or favourite object
A personal logo
A coat of arms
A collage of magazine pictures
Have a name-badge-building session and encourage students to display them for the first few days of term or hand each member of the group a tag belonging to someone else and ask them to mix and mingle until they’ve found the owner of the tag.

I hope you enjoy using these strategies with your students. I took them directly from my book ‘Connect with your students’.

If you’d like to learn more effective classroom management secrets to help build positive teacher-student relationships (for just £3.99), head on over to Amazon right now and get your copy in both paperback and Kindle versions…