Now that the new school year is in full swing and both students and teachers are settling in to their classes and schedules, you may find that the names and faces just aren’t meshing. You look around your classroom at all those faces – and the names escape you. It’s no huge revelation that remembering student names is important to not just the organization of the class, but to the level of comfort at which students operate as well.
As an art teacher you are at an advantage. You get to have fun learning student names; you can get creative. The learning as well as the process can be quite liberating too. People tend to open up and relax around people they know. If they walk into a sea of nameless faces they are less likely to really let go in their art. So by including the students in your efforts to remember student names you can help liberate them to experience their creativity in a richer, fuller sense.
The (yawn) Traditional Route
There are several traditional ways to recall students’ names, but they aren’t all that exciting. However, you can make it more interesting. If you incorporate, say, name tags or name tents in your efforts, try to take a creative approach by allowing the students to decorate the tags or tents themselves. This will give them a chance to express themselves through art and give you the opportunity to learn a little more about them through their artistic expression.
This is a great activity for middle and high school students – as well as some higher grades in elementary school. Give each student a note card and have them create their own passport for class. Get them to bring a small photo (or you can take photos) to paste on their “passport” then include some information about themselves such as things they like and dislike, what medium of art they prefer, why they are taking art class – get creative! Allow them to decorate their passports then post them around your art room.
This is a great visual prompt for you and allows you to get to know your students a little better. You can also use the passports to engage students and encourage them to learn each other’s names.
The Name Game
This is a fun name learning activity that works for just about any grade. Have students sit in a circle and let one student start by saying their first name and something interesting about themselves. The second student says their first name and provides an interesting personal tidbit, then repeats what the first student says. This allows students to remember each other’s names while you learn them too. Position yourself so that you are last, then you will have to go through the entire class. You might be surprised at how many names you actually remember. Do this regularly and start with different students so everyone gets a chance to go through the entire list.
The Name Game (with adjectives)
This is a fun name learning activity for elementary and secondary students, but students at any age will find this fun. It is a variation of the Name Game, but with a slight mnemonic twist. Have each students take a turn to say their name, but add a descriptive adjective in front of it that starts with the same letter as the first letter in their name. For instance, Clever Cathy, Artsy Anne, Creative Cal, and Painting Patrick. Each student must state their name and repeat the names of the students before them.
Give each student a sheet of paper and have them put their photo in the top corner and write their name, going down. Next to each letter have them write a word that begins with each letter of their name. For instance:
Let them decorate their name anagrams and then hang them around your art room. For an added challenge, older or more advances students can create sentences with their anagrams.
Learning students’ names doesn’t have to be a chore but it is essential to the effective operation of your class. When you can call your students by name it makes your more approachable and brings a personal feel to your art room. When your students know that you care you will be able to pull a lot more out of them and enrich their educational experience.
What fun, creative techniques do you use to remember student names? Tell us about them in the comments.