Memorizing names is hard; really hard. But it is an important way to make your classroom feel more connected, and demonstrate to students that you value their individual and unique contributions to your class. Here are some of our favorite hacks:
If you use Canvas, try creating a discussion post where you ask students to record a quick video introduction. Have them say their names (however they’d like to be called) and maybe answer a few short questions about themselves. You can ask the other students in the class to watch the videos, and you’ll be able to watch them multiple times during the first few weeks, making it much easier to memorize names.
In a larger classroom, have students write their names very large on tent cards or paper folded in half so that you can call on students by name. You may not memorize all of the names, but you can use students’ names in class. Some faculty collect these cards at the end of each class; at the beginning of subsequent classes students have to come pick them up giving faculty yet another chance to practice putting a face with a name. Bonus- If you take attendance, this is an easy way to see who is and is not present on any given day.
In very large classes (>100 students) try to memorize some of the students’ names and use them during class. This makes the room feel smaller and more connected, even if you can’t memorize everyone’s name.