When I began my current placement, I taught over 700 children in the course of a week. My goal was to learn all of their names as quickly as possible. One idea that was a tremendous help was "Grade the Teacher".
I took the time at the beginning of each class to review each child’s name, and this was quite tedious for the students. To keep their interest, I told them that they could give me a grade each week as I made progress. I made charts on the board to show my progress from week to week with a percentage of correct names.
They enjoyed “grading” me, especially in the beginning when my scores were dismal! Doing this activity also reinforces for a student that their teachers do not “give” them a grade, but that they earn a percentage based on their knowledge.
In August/September, I used my class roster to help me with their names, but beginning in the month of October I gave up the roster and relied solely on my memory. By the end of October, I was pretty secure in knowing their names.
Now, this is not to say that I don’t still mix up Kayla/Katelynn/Kaylyn/Kaylee/Kylie/Karlie or Caleb/Colton/Carson/Caden/Cameron/Camden! But, they know that I am trying and that we are all human and make mistakes. Remember, meaningfully calling each student by name shows that you have respect for them.
After my first year, learning names wasn't such a big undertaking. With each new school year, I focus on my new first graders, of course, and any new students as they arrive to the school. This coming school year, I'll be putting "Grade the Teacher" back into action, because I have a new school for next year.
What are your tricks-of-the-trade for learning massive amounts of names? Please share any tips that you have for learning student's names!