Remember all of your students’ names in the first day

The first weeks with a new class can be a really stressful time for teachers. Classroom management is next to impossible when you don’t even know the names of the students in front of you. Even simple tasks like putting students into groups or marking the roll can be stressful. There is a better way, and today we are going discuss a sure-fire way to remember all of your students’ names in the first day. When someone remembers your name you feel a lot better about them, you feel like they really care. It is the same with your students, knowing their names, and hopefully something about their lives, will make a big difference to your relationship with them.

Don’t be shy

It’s important not to be shy when asking for a name. It’s better to be annoying at first than to not know your student’s name. When a name is difficult to pronounce you can often be reluctant to say it aloud. A great solution here is to ask the student what their name rhymes with.

Alliterative naming

The first way to recall someone’s name is to make an alliteration using their name and an aspect of their appearance such as:

  • Blonde Belinda

  • Muscular Mark

  • Fashion Conscious Freddy

You can also use your student’s behaviour, like:

  • Delightful Danny

  • Energetic Elaine

These strategies are especially helpful when you are working as a relief teacher or as a specialist with lots of classes.

Getting to know your students better

Beyond just knowing your students’ names, you need to get to know your student’s back ground. If your student’s think that all you know about them is their name and that they aren’t very good at spelling, they’re not likely to respond to you. So, you need to be able to quickly learn about your students in a more meaningful way.

The Power of Mind Map

Follow this step-by-step lesson to learn more than just the names of your students.

  1. Present a Mind Map about you to your students. It will include; hobbies, friends and family, as well as drawing at least one interesting event that you have experienced. The idea is to model the use of a Mind Map and provide your students with a starting point for their own mind maps.

  2. Your students will have 15 minutes to create a Mind Map of their lives. Ask them to include each of the elements in your Mind Map.

  3. Call up your first student to present their Mind Map. Take the Mind Map from them and hide it from their view.


“What did you draw in the top right hand corner of your Mind Map?”


“What colours to did use to write...?”

To their amazement, they should be able to recall specific details of their Mind Map. This is a teaching point about the value of Mind Maps for memorisation.

  1. Repeat this process with as many of your students as time permits. You will be modelling the use and power of mind maps, and you will get to know your students really well.

You might like to paste a photo of your students in the centre of the Mind Map. You can hold onto these student Mind Maps as reminders, you may also like add information as you learn more about each of your students. I have used these Mind Maps during teacher parent interviews

So here is my 1,2,3 of remembering student names:

  1. Don’t be shy It’s okay to ask for a name more than once. Ask for a rhyming word for any name is difficult to pronounce.

  2. Alliterative names Focus on your student’s appearance and behaviour to create an alliterative name for them. This can be a great strategy for just recalling a name.

  3. Mind Maps Ask your students to complete Mind Maps of their lives. You can hold onto these as reminders and add to them as you get to know your student better.

Karen Green - Curriculum Consultant MAPPEN Author