Thursday, August 12, 2021

Help With Getting Our Students' Names Right

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Do you struggle remembering names? I certainly do. While I'm pretty shameless about admitting it and asking over and over again, it's pretty embarrassing and I don't like it. Through the years I've gotten better by coming up with strategies to memorize names or to get folks to tell me their name again without having to ask, but I'm still working on it.

It's back-to-school season and one of the challenges educators face every year is learning students' names and especially the correct pronunciation. There's nothing more welcoming to a student than to be called by their properly pronounced name starting on the first day of school. I recently came across a cool website that will help teachers be able to do just that. has recordings of proper pronunciations for more than 100,000 names. So if there are names on your rosters that you're not familiar with, you can learn to pronounce them before you meet the students. And if a name isn't included, or if a student pronounces his/her name differently than on the site, you can add it to the database. This can also be helpful in learning to pronounce parents' names properly before you meet or call them.
Proper name pronunciation speaks volumes to an individual. It demonstrates to them that we value and respect them as an individual. Most teachers will tell students to correct them as they call the roll on the first day of class, but many kids don't speak up so it's up to us to take the lead on this. I also encourage you to read (or listen to) Cult of Pedagogy's post, "How We Pronounce Student Names and Why It Matters."

I've also found it helpful to have students submit a video introduction via a learning management system (like Canvas or Google Classroom) at the beginning of the year - ideally before the first day. That way you can learn their name and pronunciation while connecting a face to the name. This was super helpful to one of my teachers who came to our school mid-year. The week before he joined us, students introduced themselves and welcomed him using Flipgrid, and it helped him build relationships with his learners from day one. For more tips to help with remembering student names, check out Edutopia's list on "How to Remember Names.

If you have a tip or strategy that has helped you learn names quickly, please comment below, email me, or reach out to me on Twitter.

Have a great year! And remember, it's the tidbits that make it all grand. Take care!

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