When I worked as a Teacher Assistant covering lunch and recess, I remembered the names of students that I covered their classes for indoor recess or teacher planning periods. I remembered the names of students who I had to speak to about their behavior and the ones who just liked to talk to me because they're genuinely nice kids. The school I worked at had a population of over 500. During a Leader in Me Training, the facilitator asked us to introduce ourselves using something we like that starts with the same letter as our first name. To this day I can't remember what I used for myself. However, I liked this idea and used it with students.
I had a student that was in fourth grade at the time, we'll call him "Joshua." Joshua* had a brother that was a few years older than him, we'll call him "Thomas." They looked exactly alike. Whenever I saw Joshua* I called him Thomas*. He would yell back to me that his name was Joshua* and we'd laugh about it. Finally I said to him, "tell me something that you like that starts with the letter J." We both laughed about how hard it is to come up with something you like that starts with the letter J. He finally said "jelly." Again we started to laugh. I said, "Okay, Joshua* Jelly it is." I never forgot his name again after that. Not only did it help me remember his name, it also helped me establish rapport with him and his friends. We all had an inside joke. Of course, his friends ended up with nicknames too. One in particular had nothing to do with the same letter as his first name. One day I was walking through the cafeteria, talking to students, when I came across Joshua's* friend, we'll call him Gavin*. Gavin* was enjoying his carrots in a way his mother had probably not intended... up his nose. I stood next to him quietly until he noticed me and I said to him, "from now on you are Carrots." We all laughed about it. It was even funnier when Gavin's mom started working at our school. I was like "Oh, you're Carrots' mom!" Carrots and Joshua* Jelly are in sixth grade now. I miss them and hope they're enjoying their first few weeks of middle school!
The first school I was a counselor at had 600 students and I didn't remember a lot of students' names. Of course, being part-time makes it even more difficult to remember names. So that's my favorite way to remember student names. How do you remember student names? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.
* Indicates where names were changed to preserve student confidentiality.