The Substitute Teacher Guide to Remember Names in the Classroom
Why is it Important to Learn my Students’ Names?
Learning a student’s name and using it establishes an instant connection. It shows that you care enough about a child to learn his or her name and that you are obviously an experienced and capable teacher. A student feels valued if a teacher calls him or her by name. At some subliminal level, the child feels closer to you and will almost always respond more readily to your requests.
There is almost a magical aura that surrounds a substitute teacher who can learn the name of every student before the end of the first day in class. The students know it’s not easy to do that, and they are impressed with you. That’s never a bad thing.
Will There be a Seating Chart or Name Cards?
The short answer is: there should be, but don’t count on it. Principals often require teachers to leave a seating chart in a folder for substitutes. However, teachers tend to change seats often and don’t always remember to update the seating chart. You shouldn’t rely on its accuracy without other verification. To verify the seating chart, ask a special helper to assist you.
Most primary grade teachers keep large name cards on the children’s desks. However, these cards rip and are often lost by mid-year. When I subbed and there were no name cards on the desks, I had the students fold notebook paper in thirds. Then I had them write their names on the papers and stand them up. If there was time, I asked them to decorate their name cards in a manner that described their interests. For instance, I told them that if they loved music, they could decorate their card with musical notes. I often made a sample to show them.
What Should I do if I Can’t Pronounce a Student’s Name?
Mispronouncing a name is guaranteed to cause disruption, laughter, and embarrassment. When you are not sure of a name while you’re taking attendance or teaching a lesson, there are two things you can do:
- Quietly walk over to that student and ask him or her to help you learn how to say his or her name.
- Ask a helper to go over the roster of student names with you before class begins. Your helper can teach you the proper way to address the students whose names might be foreign or unusual to you.
If you encounter a difficult name on a written list and can’t exercise either of these options, you might say, “I’m not quite sure how to pronounce this name. I’ll spell it, and you tell me how to say it properly.”
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