Wednesday, 28 January 2009 00:14

How to Remember Students Names

Name TagIf you are like me, you are terrible with trying to remember your student's names. I'm so bad that I once forgot my kids' names during a job interview and had to make hem up. It took me 2 weeks to tell the story to my wife. Yeah, it was bad...

Knowing the names of your students is so important because you will connect with your students better and build that bond of trust faster. Also, in an emergency, you can keep control of the situation significantly better hopefully leading to a more positive outcome.

Search the internet and you will discover a million and three different techniques out there. Below are a couple that help me a lot:

Super trick #1 - Repeat their name during conversation and several times in your head. This helps a lot. That will get you used to saying their name especially if it is a difficult one to say the first time.

Super trick #2 - Write the name down with a physical description. This is my favourite trick. Before the lesson starts, write out all of their names. During the class introductions, write out a quick physical description for each person. I tend to focus on the head. Do they have a moustache or a specific hair style? Make note of it. In a moment of doubt, I can look down at my cheat sheet sitting on my deck or pull it out of a pocket and I'm ready to go. It has saved me quite a bit.

Super trick #3 - Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know their name. Remember everybody has the problem so ask if you can't remember.

Super trick #4 - Get students to introduce themselves later in the day. I just recently discovered this little trick. Right after lunch, do a quick name check. It will help both you as well as your classmates who are trying to figure out who everybody is. If the course is a two day course, I always do it first thing on day two.

Super trick #5 - Make use of name tags. If nothing else works, why not? I was once on a whitewater course where the instructor wrote out each name on tape and stuck on the students helmets. At first I thought it was weird but then I discovered that everybody looked exactly the same. It was a great idea and he had been doing it for years.

Finally, don't forget that your students will mostly likely forget your name so get yourself some sort of waterproof name tag. I had a wooden one that I made out of woodburner which worked great. I recently found one of those classy stitched patches with my name sewn on. I attached this directly to my PFD so it never got lost.

Have you got a trick? Post a comment below.

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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