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It's the beginning of school and one of the dilemmas of a school counselor as we teach hundreds of different children throughout the year in a series of classroom guidance lessons is learning students names. Of course there are name tags and assigned seats with seating charts and names on desks--among many of the possible ways to learn the names of students. This year I tried something new though and I'm encouraged enough with the possibilities that I want to share it with you. It would be useful for learning names in any relatively large group. In fact I learned it this summer in a class I attended.
I began by asking each student to think of a descriptive word that began with the same letter as their first name. I used the example of my name by saying that I could be Mrs. Wonderful Watts or Wacky Watts or Wild Watts or as one brilliant student suggested, "Wise Watts". Each student then wrote the name and descriptive word down on a piece of paper which I would later take up so as to have a reference later. The class then circled up in the room and played the memory game that I know you've all probably seen before. The first person states their name and each successive person after them must remember all the names of the people before them prior to sharing their name. Yes, it's difficult. Yes, it's a little intimidating and yes with a large class it takes a while, but there is such a sense of accomplishment when the last person goes and everyone has learned not only the names of their classmates but something about them as well. I did this today with a fourth grade class and the adjectives or sometimes words they came up with to describe themselves were quite an education in itself. We had Encouraging Emmaline and Redundant Ryan and Monkey Mitchell and Courageous Christian.
It is necessary of course to be supportive and help those who have difficulty with the process. There should also be lots of compliments and affirmations for trying to remember and for the creative adjectives that many students come up with. The process is also somewhat of an assessment process in itself. Who pays attention? Who struggles to remember even a few names? Who breezes through the experience? Who has a creative vocabulary? I learned about one hundred names today in about three classes and the encouraging thing for me was that when I saw some of the students later in the hallway, I actually remembered their name! What about you? Do you have any techniques for learning names of a classroom of students or other large group? I'd love to hear it!
Here's a great book to go along with the beginning of school and learning names: