I’ve always worked hard to be able to get to know my students’ names relatively quickly during the semester. I think I may have finally hit upon a successful way of doing this within the first two weeks (short of taking postage-sized sticky photos of each student and practicing at home).
On the first day of class, I have students get into groups of four or five, pick a spokesperson, and introduce themselves to each other. They have to tell each other their names, their major, and one thing that they think is interesting about themselves or otherwise important for the class to know. Then it is the spokesperson’s job to introduce the members of the group to the whole class. This way, shy students aren’t forced to talk when they don’t feel comfortable doing so.
I’ve also been taking roll by having students sign in on a sheet I pass around each day. I finally realized they should write their interesting/important thing next to their names. For whatever reason, the combination of three items (face, name, thing) allows me to remember them more quickly than the combination of only two items (face, name). So as I sit here, for example, I can picture the student who is going to the Renaissance Fair in costume, but I can’t remember her name. A quick check of the latest sign-up sheet, however, fills me in.
Remarkably few of the students remember each other’s names or interesting details, however. I’m going to keep calling them on that, I think.