Just checked out my class rosters, and in addition to my three classes of returning students (105 returners–we are at capacity!), I have 72 new faces that will walk through my door next Wednesday. The big question is… how fast can I learn their names?

Here's a simple strategy to learn student names FAST. I used it with my 175+ students every year, and it WORKED!

Learning student names is serious business.

There are few things that I take more seriously in the first week of school than learning student names. It affects everything. I originally posted my name-learning strategy in my first day lesson plans, but I want to make sure you all catch it because it will help you to start your year off on the right foot with all of the humans you get to teach this year!

How to learn student names FAST!

Step One: Students make name cards

On the first day of class, have each of your new students write their names–in BIG, LEGIBLE LETTERS– mine write them on this Name card.

Step Two: Photograph groups of students holding name cards.

Before class lets out, have students stand in short line-ups of two, three, or four students and flash a smile (or not) while holding up their name cards.

Step Three: Study the photos!

Put the pics on your computer and study their names and faces until you have them. Okay… when I first started teaching, I had a little flip-phonne, hence the photos-on-the-computer thing. 2019 UPDATE: PUT THE PHOTOS ON YOUR SMART PHONE!!

Step Four: Quiz yourself til you know ALL the names!

While you’re eating your breakfast, while you’re using the bathroom (gross!), while you’re brushing your teeth… keep looking at those faces. Focus on their faces and see if you can recall the name that they are holding up. Look down to check! Keep going until you’ve got it!

It REALLY works!

Every year that I’ve used this strategy, I have learned all of my students’ names by day 3. There is no better way for you to instantly connect with your students and make them feel welcome in your classroom.

But you have to study. Do your homework!!

Learning the names on Day 1 of my first day as a private school teacher. My middle son attended class with me 🙂

21 replies on “Learn their names!!

  1. Your idea is great! For those of us less studious…I really like Ben Slavic’s Circling with Balls activity to learn names. And a bit about the students.

  2. I love how your namecard has some simple vocabulary words on the back that students can refer to and it’s something that is out on their desk already.

  3. I have my cards printed! I also like to play the name game where students have to introduce everyone before themselves. This helps them memorize each others names as well (though a bit time consuming). Hearing all the names repeated several times helps me to memorize the names. I like the photo idea. This would also be useful if I wanted to have a student of the week.

  4. I love the idea of taking the pics! It would be fun to put the pics into a quick PPT and review What’s her name?
    I re-use old manilla file folders-I cut about four inches above the fold and then cut it in half. Each folder gives me two labels. The kids write their English name on one side and their Spanish name on the other and decorate it with information about themselves. I like the fact that the labels stand up and I can use them to assign seats.

    1. Great idea to use old manila folders! I am short on cardstock this year but have nasty old folders. Glue them together and it will work just fine!

  5. I use manilla folders too–4 folded name tags per folder. During day one they write their English names and where they are from on one side, and then the second day, they choose a Spanish name and I randomly assign them a country to be from and they write that info on the other side. We all stand up in a circle and they say “me llamo Paco y soy de Cuba” The whole class then says “Mucho gusto Paco” It is a great way to go over pronunciation of names and countries.

    1. For the first time this year, I used the rhyme:
      Manzanita del Perú
      díme ¿Cómo te llamas tú?
      (said with a pat/snap/clap or something to make a rhythm)
      Then I indicate a student, who reads off the board to complete the sentence:
      Me llamo __________.
      And the class reads off the board:
      ¡Mucho gusto, _________!
      Then I started the rhythm again. As they get comfortable, I gradually speed it up until at the end we are going really fast.
      Apparently this rhythm is typically used in LatinAmerica as a jumprope rhyme, except it is ” cuántos años tienes tú…1…2…3…4…).

  6. You would do your substitute teachers a HUGE favor by making the pictures available to them; ideally in a seating chart, once you have your “permanent” (cough, cough) one. Even if you don’t put the pics in the seating chart, just having them available would be helpful, especially for a sub who will be there more than a day or two.

    1. Yes, I do this…and one substitute found it so helpful that she borrowed my sub binder, took it to my principal, and strongly suggested that she mandate it for all teachers!

  7. I know someone who has the students make name cards like yours (though without the vocab; he doesn’t teach foreign language), then takes a video while students hold up their cards under their faces. Students remain seated, he moves around the classroom.

  8. Do you have an editable version of your name card you’d be willing to sell? I’m doing your Dice unit with a homeschooling co-op this year and the idea of having something with high frequency words on the back sounds awesome! I am thinking though that all the vocal on the back is too much for my students who are 3rd-5th graders.

  9. I am brand new to Somos, CI and teaching. I am doing Dice now, although my launch is a bit rough the first time around! So much to learn. I attended your July conference in Chittenango, so I have lots of great notes and ideas, but it will take time to learn proper implementation.That’s OK. It’s so worth the effort. I have been looking for info from a post about what to do with the name cards after their initial use. How do I introduce the content on the back and how/when do we use it in the classsroom?

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