Getting to Know Your Students

Everybody likes to be referred to by their name rather than as “hey you.” Your students are no different in this regard. If you refer to them by name, they may be more likely to see their class contributions as relevant. Knowing that their name is important to the instructor may also encourage them to contribute to Q and A or discussion within the class because they are seen as a person and not as a payer of tuition. It is not an easy task to learn the names of your students, and in some cases you will not learn and remember every student, but the effort your make in trying will reach far with many students. Below are some methods you can use for getting to know your students. When employing these methods, be sure to consider YOUR class, and how big it is.


Have a seating plan.

When students arrive in your class, let them sit where they want, and then ask them to remain in those seats for at least two weeks. Create a seating chart for the room and have students fill in their names on the seating chart. Refer to the chart as you conduct the course. This reference will allow you to learn names according to placement in the classroom.

Name tags or displays.

Ask students to make a name tag and where it each day for the first 2 weeks. Or ask them to make a paper display with their name on it and place it on their desk each day for the first two weeks. This will allow you to see what their name is, and ask them questions, or call on them by name. This practice will help you associate names and faces.

Sometimes this idea is looked upon highly. It is perceived as a grade school activity. However at professional conferences, and in workplace orientations, name tags are commonly used. They are used because remembering names of multiple individuals requires time, effort and knowledge of the names you are trying to learn.

Ask students to tell everyone about themselves.


Spend some time at the beginning of the course to get to know your students names, interests, and backgrounds. If you have a smaller class, ask your students to share their name, their major, and why they are taking your class. This will allow you as an instructor to find out what your students motives are, and also allows you to make connections with names, interests, and backgrounds. This is more information for your to remember, but there may be something they say that helps you better remember who they are.


“My name is Bill, and I am an English major. I am taking this course to meet my a science GLER requirement. I’m worried about his because I don’t do well in science. I am originally from Timbuktu and have been at the UofL for two years now. “

It may be easier to remember Bill’s name because now you can remember Bill for many reasons. He is from Timbuktu, and he is an English major in your science course.