Do You Know My Name Sir?

How many teachers really know their students?

It might seem incredible but there are teachers out there who don’t know the names of some of the students they teach. This is inexcusable and you can’t just blame it on old age.

For secondary colleagues, learning names is a minefield and can be a tall order as there are so many faces to remember. But after a few lessons, names and faces should connect. Should.

Some teachers have a mental block and can’t remember who’s who and to students there is no winging it – they know when they haven’t been registered.

Take the register itself for example. You’d imagine that would be a big help to a teacher but when they say a student’s name and frantically search the room looking for some indication that that pupil is there, you know they haven’t a clue. This is especially embarrassing when the teacher has already had the class in the previous year and over the summer has forgotten.

It would be hard to imagine a primary teacher making the same mistake after a day together!

For students, it can be really embarrassing too. They deserve to be known. They need to know they are a valued member of the class. They also need to know that the report their teacher wrote about them actually related to them. Little wonder that students see some of their teachers as remote and unapproachable.

Learning student names is a ‘basic’ practice to build immediacy with students. This human connection is so important because names have power.

Knowing names influences their attitude, motivation, behaviour and builds community. It also influences their performance (Cooper et al, 2017).

As Glenz (2014) says,

By calling on a student by name, it gives the impression that the teacher cares about their success and develops a sense of trust. It also has an effect on student interactions.

If teachers forget then things only get worse and the more they try and cover up which always stands out like a sore thumb.

Knowing names is essential and students need to hear their names to feel valued. They need to be recognised too! So, learn their names, use their names and whatever you do, pronounce them correctly and don’t be a Mr Garvy!

Lest we forget.


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