First Day of School QUICK TIP

Knowing your students' names on the first day is gold! 

Taking the time to learn students names is a powerful management tool that can start you off on a positive footing. 

When your teacher knows your name, your level of personal accountability rises dramatically. Even more important - when your teacher knows your name, chances are, you feel seen and respected.  What a great way to start the year! 

When my new fifth graders understand I know all their names on the first day, I've both gained and given a valuable measure of respect and even mystique.

But how to learn so many names at once?

Here’s the strategy I use.

The Strategy

I start the day by giving an instruction to my new students as they look at me wondering, “Who is this new teacher and how is our year going to go?” I tell them that at the end of the day I want them to give me a test. 

Their eyes get large and they draw a collective breath. Things just got interesting.     

Then I set to work learning their names as we go about the rest of our first-day-of-school activities.    

Name Tag

First step - I provide each student a name card for their desk, a name tag, or name badge on a lanyard. 

Tell Me How to Say Your Name

I ask them to say their name and let me know if I’m saying it correctly as I repeat it after them - and make a note if there’s a name I need help to remember.

As we go through the day, I look at each student and silently repeat their names three or four at a time. I can often be seen muttering their names under my breath. 

Seating Chart

I test myself secretly as I scribble names into an empty seating chart. I take paricular note of any names I’m having trouble with. I use mnemonics of any kind to help me remember - red hair/Raul, friends with Jessi, etc. 

100% Non-negotiable

More than anything, I know that I MUST pass this test with 100% success. Passing the test with 100% never fails to impress - on the first day!

But the real reason I have to get 100% is that I know I can't let a single student suffer the public embarrassment of being the only one whose name I can't remember.  

So I study hard and only invite them to test me when I know I’m ready. I repeat their names over and over.  I pay particular attention to anyone I have a tendency to falter on. 

By the time I'm ready to publicly pass my test (and impress my charges) -  my bonding with my new group is on its way.

Click through to find more Back-to-School activities and freebies to help build relationships from the first day of school!

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Get to Know Your Students with the 4 C's of Engineering // Kerry Tracy

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