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Learning pupils’ names

(7 Posts)
wanderings Fri 10-Jan-20 12:02:05

I volunteer in a primary school once a week. After a few weeks, I still don’t know all the names in the class (30 in all). When I take a group of them, I ask their names, and write them down; I then try to say their names when I talk to them, which I don’t normally do when talking to people. (I feel like a salesperson if I use someone’s name repeatedly!)

Does anyone have any tips?

OP’s posts: |
SansaSnark Fri 10-Jan-20 16:41:04

I'm not sure I'd learn names very easily if it was once a week and different small groups of children.

I'm not sure I've got any tricks for learning names, but on the few occasions I've called a pupil the wrong name, I've certainly never forgotten it again. Most kids are understanding and will let you have one mistake!

If I've forgotten a pupil's name, I do have a few tricks:
-Quickly flick and look at the front of their book- many of them don't notice this.
-Get them to write their names on something like a worksheet etc so I can look over their shoulder.
-Do an activity with the group where they have to use each other's names e.g. if they get a question right, they get to pick the next one to answer.

With repetition and time you will get there!

tarheelbaby Fri 10-Jan-20 19:23:42

Infrequent contact can make it really hard to learn names. I'm still struggling with some pupils I regularly see weekly.

SansaSnark has some good suggestions.

If those don't work with your usual session, you could try giving them all a bit of paper (large or small as appropriate) to make a nameplate for themselves. They could then bring these the next time or you could have them make new ones each time or you could save them and then let them shuffle through your collection to find their nameplate.

The only challenge here and with the following idea is managing it so it doesn't waste too much time. Often kids like the gentle pressure of 'find your name plate/ make your name badge in XX seconds'

If the nameplate doesn't work you could invest in a roll of sticky labels so they can make themselves a name badge each time. IME, kids enjoy doing this, feel (surprisingly) flattered, so they will never twig that you can't remember their names and you get the benefit of their feeling flattered - Ms. Wanderings always lets us make a sticky name badge - They'll probably wear them proudly the whole day, other kids will want to come to your small group (for a name badge, of course) and at home the parents will ask and you'll get another big-up. Obvs, this is not your goal but a little positive PR can't hurt.

Also, they may personalise the name plates/badges and this will further help cement them in your memory and increase your connection with them by revealing little personality quirks. Ellie will draw a rainbow; Ollie will draw a car; etc.

PenOrPencil Fri 10-Jan-20 20:23:04

I really struggle with learning names. I found this blog really helpful,

wanderings Sun 12-Jan-20 07:17:23

Thanks, I'm getting there, I'll try some of those ideas; I'm quite new to classroom situations. I often try to attach names to something about their voice or personality (I'm not good on remembering faces), or something they said. When I first meet them, I sometimes try to attach a name to a distinguishing feature of theirs, but even that's tricky when many of them have similar hairstyles, and are in uniform. When they're outside, sometimes their trainers are the easiest thing to remember them by! wink

OP’s posts: |
CuckooCuckooClock Sun 12-Jan-20 07:59:57

Could you sit them in the same places each time? I find I learn names by seating plan to begin with. I don’t know if this would work in your situation.

minisoksmakehardwork Tue 14-Jan-20 11:32:47

@wanderings - I have the same problem. I volunteer in my local primary and am on my second year with one class. There are children whose names stick, and those that still elude me a year later. Luckily I mostly listen to readers so depending on the class, I get a list of pupils. My trick for that one is to send find my first reader, usually one of the names I know, then get that pupil to send the next child on the list out when they have finished.

If its a class which doesn't use the list system then I ask them for their reading record so I can see where they are up to. Of course, this doesn't work for the child who has forgotten their reading record but as it is often the same children, you soon learn the names of the missing book children as well.

I really do have a bad memory for faces/names.

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