Being a casual teacher can be difficult, as you don’t always know the dynamics and relationships that are at play when you come into a new learning environment.
I’ve written extensively on strategies for bonding with your class, but as a casual teacher this can all be undermined if you don’t know the names of the children in your class.
Over the years I have been able to reduce the time it takes me to confidently know the names of a whole class of active children in less than half an hour. And there are often some very unique names.
I’m a visual learner by nature, but these strategies can be adapted to help anyone speed up their name recall in a new class.
I feel like I’m giving away my secret recipe, but here goes… I hope it can help you, too!
Get a list of the class names
As a visual learner, I like to see all the names of the children in the class written down. I especially like when I go into a new classroom for there to be a list of names up on the wall that is visible from across the room. This allows me to glance over if I need to, without the children necessarily realizing that’s what I’m doing.
Choose a noticeable characteristic
This is usually a physical feature, such as a freckle or another constantly visible feature. Then, you can use this physical feature to relate back to their name in your head.
Learn the names of small groups
Quite often, 2-4 children are constantly together in smaller groups. Learn all of the names of these children in one group.
I often look around the room and practice the names in my head. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
Let the children help you memorize all the names by using transition songs for this purpose. A great one to use is, “Where, oh where, is my friend Jack?” The children will soon point ‘Jack’ out.
Get your hands dirty
Just get in and play with the children. You usually remember people better if you have spent time with them. Go and play! This might seem exceedingly simple but it’s often overlooked in a busy learning environment.
Use the classroom lockers
The lockers usually have a photo of the child alongside their name.
Most preschools these days display photos of yesterday’s events. Review the photos – hopefully the names are up there too!
The children won’t judge you if you can’t remember everyone’s names in 30 minutes so just do your best. Children often find it funny if you call them by another name and laughingly correct you.
These 9 strategies have made it a very easy process for me to learn a new class’ names in less than 30 minutes.
I hope they help you feel more confident the next time you’re in front of a new group of expectant children.