Once you start getting to know students, school counseling referrals will flow, connections will be made, and trust will be built. Relational capital is one of your most valuable currencies in this career and remembering students’ names will cast huge strides for you. It’s likely that you have a huge caseload of students so remembering students’ names can be a huge hurdle to overcome. But as your high school counseling hype girl, I am here to tell you, it is possible… and worth it! Read on for some quick tips for remembering students’ names.
1- Look around for the low-hanging fruit when remembering students’ names
Use what’s right in front of you for remembering students’ names. It means a lot to a person to address them by their first names. So when you’re in a pickle and can’t seem to remember, use the tools around you.
- If your students wear IDs, subtly get a good glance at the name on their ID.
- Try to sneak a peak at their name on a worksheet if you’re in a classroom or catch them writing their name on a flipbook or an activity they’re doing in a small group of yours!
2- How to ask without really asking when remembering students’ names
Subtlety is key here!
- Ask them how to spell their name for you (use this one in hopes that it’s not something super embarrassingly easy to spell).
- Ask them to remind you of their first OR last name (whichever one you think will trigger the other name for you).
3- Remembering students’ names takes practice and repetition
You will have to put in some very intentional effort to master this skill. This isn’t going to happen on its own. But trust me when I say the payout will be absolutely worth your time spent.
- Study names in the yearbook or in your computer database system if it has pictures.
- Review the class list/roster before you go into a classroom lesson. Names and faces (if you have pictures) will be fresh in your brain.
- Quiz yourself if you have bus or cafeteria duty. Stand outside of your office as students are walking in in the morning and see how many students you can name in your head. If you’re in a classroom teaching or observing, practice naming students in your head while they’re working on something.
- Keep a spreadsheet on your computer with nicknames. I always hated calling a student by a formal name or their first name when they’ve used a nickname since first grade. A spreadsheet with nicknames and pronunciations was a lifesaver for me!
- Use their names as often as possible once you learn it. Repetition is key!
4- Don’t give up on remembering students’ names!
- Endure and persist in a time where wearing masks and not being in school full-time is the new norm. This has got to be one of the hardest parts of forming relationships– definitely a barrier to learning names!
- Just MAKE AN EFFORT! If you’re struggling, be honest that you’re still learning. Have a meaningful conversation with the student to trigger a memory of who they are to you!
Whether you are looking for ways to celebrate seniors as a means of connection or trying to manage touch points with your frequent flyer students, we all know that relationships are key. Taking the time to remember students’ names is an investment that can feel futile with a large caseload. But I’m here to encourage you to continue in the effort. You don’t know what a difference you can make when you are intentional with students who may feel overlooked or forgotten.
Students notice if and when you care enough to (at least try to) remember their name. Once you start really committing student names to memory, you will gain so much momentum in your relationships at school!
For more blog posts and podcast episodes around student-centered ideas and activities, check out these resources!