At the start of each new year, whether it’s for school, a program, or a workshop, it’s inevitable that we have to learn the names of the incoming students and/or participants. Some people have an amazing knack for remembering names. I am definitely not one of those people. I am actually HORRIBLE at it! I can remember what they were wearing, where they were standing and all the details of their life stories, but, their name, that’s a whole different story. This doesn’t make my students or participants any less important to me, it’s just not one of my strengths.
We want our students and participants to feel welcome, safe and important. So over the years, I’ve learned that there are 10 ways that have helped me have a better recollection of names.
- Read over the roster and become familiar with them. Once the names are recognizable, it makes it easier to connect the name to a face.
- Lookup the student in the prior year’s database or school identification cards (if you have access to this.) This will also give you a visual recognition of the student.
- Use characteristics to connect to their names. Be careful of characteristics which can change. “Mustache Matt” may shave tomorrow and then you will be a little thrown off.
- Write down the names of the participants for activities, group assignments, welcome notes etc. Writing helps commit information to memory.
- Create a sign-in sheet and/or a seating chart. Read the names out loud to verify attendance. The visual aids will help you recall names more quickly.
- Have participants wear name tags for their first few days. It helps to visually associate their name and face. This will also give you a quick reminder when you are still trying to recall their names. I find this works better than associating articles of clothing such as “blue shirt.”
- Play engaging name games that help you associate the person to an object, thought,
or idea. Aren’t you sick of the same old name games? I know I am. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve experienced this one: “Welcome, let’s go around the room and give a description word that best describes you, starting with the first letter of your name. “LOVELY LESLIE…” I already know my response before the question is asked. So, do a little search to find some new activities that make these new and exciting for your students and participants.
- Create a welcome bulletin board. Associate a theme and take pictures on the first day. You can create a class or group project, or even post them yourself.
- Ask for a selfie with fun facts about themselves. If you have high school students, I recommend suggesting face selfies, so you don’t a get racy one that may make you blush. They are still learning responsible social media use.
- Create a welcome video for an activity. Have students or participants share what they look forward to for this year and/or what goals they have set for themselves.
Hopefully, some or all of these techniques will help you learn the names and help you get to know your participants quicker. Good luck with your new incoming students and participants!
What methods or activities do you use with your students or participants to learn their names?
Need some great back-to-school and team building activities? Check this out!