Tuesday 21 May 2019

A Girl Has No Name, But Your Students Do!

This has got to be the corniest blog post title of all times but hey, I’ll go with it. If you don’t watch Game of Thrones then you probably don’t know that this title is GoT-themed and inspired by my favourite character Arya Stark, whom I consider the most rounded and consistent character from the beginning till the end of the epic TV series.  Oh no, I digress.

What’s in a name, you say?

Some teachers go through the school year never learning their students’ names or worse, calling them by a different name. This wouldn’t matter if they were Arya Stark the girl who has no name. What’s a major teaching faux pas is just pointing randomly at a student and saying “you”. The unwilling student goes “who, me?” and turns around to look at, or point at someone else. Imagine the minutes you lose going “No, you, I mean you behind him.” Participation would be more effective if only you’ll simply say their name. Needless to say that calling your students by their names shows that they’re important, that they matter and are not just a face in the crowd.
Learning the names of your students may be tasking if you’ve got so many. And, if you’re like me having just one lesson period every two weeks’ contact with each class, then you’ll have a problem memorising the names and most especially putting faces to the names. So, here are some things that I’ve been doing to try to learn the names of about 700 students that I meet only once every week at different times, in the two schools that I’m assigned to.

First thing I did was to request for the seating chart and rewrite the students’ names from Japanese characters to romaji, then I went about using this seating chart like a boss LOL.  So, I would put the chart out of sight, look at a student and their name on the chart, go close to them and say something like "How about you, (student’s name)".  The smiles and surprise on their faces when I called their names were nice and heart-warming. One cheeky boy who tried to cover his name badge with his hand, thinking I was reading off the name badges, almost jumped out of his skin when I addressed him by his name. If you’re familiar with how Japanese people react dramatically when something surprises them I’m sure you can picture this very cute scenario.  Also, when a student participates, I say “well done (student’s name)” to boost their confidence. One time I went to a class and wasn’t aware that the seats had been reshuffled and the JTE forgot to tell me. The first few minutes were hilarious as I looked at one student and called them by another’s name. They gave me this puzzled look, glancing at the real owner of the name while the other students erupted in laughter. Uh oh, boss moves busted.

Of course, using the seating chart doesn’t mean that I always manage to match the students’ faces with their names afterwards. Ah, bless the cheeky ones; I learn their names faster for very obvious reasons. So now, I take advantage of my lunchtime engagements (I have lunch with a different class each day) to learn a few names, making a mental note of the faces at the same time. Each class is broken into lunch groups and I can only sit and talk with one lunch group of about 8 students at a time so, let’s say in a week I manage to memorize about 72 names and faces out of 400. I’m slowly making progress and soon when I meet a student in the hallway and they enthusiastically say “Hello Lola” I’ll be able to say hello and call their name too. If you have any ideas about how I can learn names faster please drop a note in the comment section.

Names are important. Learning the names of your students is a very big deal. I cannot reiterate this enough.

Dear teacher, how many names and faces of your learners can you remember off the top of your head right now?

Thanks for stopping by.  See you next post!

Photo Credit: Photo found on Google photos.

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