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remembering names

mme NPB

Full Member
Can anyone recommend a way of remembering students names that really works? I know that some kids in the younger grades have their names on their desks, or the teacher usually has a seating plan that you can glance at to see who is who. But I am wondering what others have done (at the elementary level) when going into a new class every day.


My one weakness . . .

is remembering names. In middle school, I don't even try to learn more than a couple names so that it appears I know their names. I'd only really try to remember their names if I was assigned to the class for multiple days, for by the time you could remember all their names, the bell has rung and a new class awaits.


New Member
Although I have not yet subbed, I have had my own elementary school classroom and have helped out in other classrooms where I don't know all the names.

I agree with gatorman, learn a few names to show that you are at least trying. I also find that making up little nicknames can sometimes make the children laugh and relieves the pressure of having to remember their first names all the time.

Another thing I have done is get them to write the name of their favourite superhero, cartoon character, etc on a piece of paper in front of them and I call them that to make things a bit more fun.


Junior Member
You might try this

The others have had some good suggestions, but thought I would add to their input.

For elementary, I take a moment at the beginning of the day to introduce myself to each of them and ask their names. I announce that it is hard to remember so many names and that I may need to ask them their name more than once. I tell them that they should tell me if I get their name wrong. This usually works pretty well.

For middle school, it is nearly impossible to remember over 100 names in a day (up to 30 in a 50-minute period) so I just learn the names I need to. The teacher usually has seating charts for each period, and I use these as needed. If a student is acting out, I will politely ask their name and ask them to fix their behavior. I also make sure to verify the name using the seating chart if I decide to report anything to the teacher in my report.


Senior Member

When I subbed in Elementary School, I brought with me a sheet of address labels. When I found the roll, I made nametags. As the children came in, I attached a nametag to each student. (Taking roll was then fairly easy, because any leftover nametags were absent students.)
Sometimes I had leftover names because the rolls were out of date, but the kids will be glad to tell you (Johnny moved!) if they are no longer in the class.

I usually told the kids that if they kept peeling the nametags on and off, they would no longer be sticky, but if they just left them alone, they would stay on all day. Any student having a nametag at the end of the day would get a treat.

If you write the names big enough, you can see them from across the room and call each student by name. You don't have to worry about trying to read their names on desks, or what to call them when they are out of their seats.

It worked for me.


Junior Member
I am so horrible with names. Unless a kid just 'sticks' out for some reason I don't know the name of any child. Bad bad me! But I do call them by terms of endearment (or however you spell it). Like, Sweetie, Lovey, Baby, Honey, or Sweet Heart. I make it a joke and say, 'You'll have to forgive me, but I call everybody by gooshie names. I just can't help it. Is it okay if I call you '------'? I've never had a kid say no but if they did I'd try to learn their name and not call them anything gooshie. I'm very expressive in my feelings for the good or the bad.(so if I ever come across as too gooshie or too brash on this board you know why. If I ever sound brash, 99.0% of the time it's not meant that way and you can say , 'hey what did you mean by-----" LOL). I think kids like to be talked to in a loving way, that's why I do it. I love being talked to in a loving way.

Oh sometimes if I have to call on someone and I have the class' attention I may say 'red shirt' or 'pink girl'. The kids like that, too. I always make light of it and tell the kids up front that it's hard for me to remember names, but I usually remember faces. "so if you see me out in public and say hi and I can't remember your name, don't take it personally, because I'll probably remember your face. I even forgot my husband's name on our first date. So you won't be the only one." The kids get such a laugh out of that one. I wish I could remember names better.


New Member
Names are important

I believe it is important to call children by name whenever possible. It is more respectful and really helps with management. It seems to make them more accountable. Since I am a visual learner, I use position in the classroom to help me learn. A seating chart or name tags are vital to me. I have even had students create the chart if I couldn't find one. I tell middle schoolers that I take roll by the chart and if they don't want to be counted absent make certain they are in the correct seat. For the little ones, I use either the name plates on their desks or the names on their papers. They are often amazed when I call them by name because they can't figure out how I know it. I will tell children at the beginning that I want to use their names and will walk over to check the nametag if necessary.


index cards

In a large class where I know it will be difficult to recall names, I have students write their names on index cars that I always have. I then use them to call students randomly until I get handle on names.

new sub

Name Tags

I'm trying to get my bearings still. Last week I brought a wide roll of masking tape and stuck a piece of tape to each ones desk. I asked them to write their name on the tape - I found markers and supplied them- They wore their name tags all day. I knew almost everyone's name by the end of the day. Now, do you think that this procedure takes up too much valuable class time? I struggle with these issues because I like the process of getting the kids involved to help me out so I can function better with them during the day but I am concerned that this is not a good activity because it's not "part of the the lesson plan." But really it doesn't take that long to get this job done.


Senior Member
Not a waste of time at all

You need to take roll, don't you? It certainly can't take much more time than taking roll, and you accomplish two things at the the same time, plus you keep order in the classroom better when you can call the child by his/her name, thus saving time for learning.


mme NPB

Full Member

I agree it is worth it to take a few minutes to put name tags on them. I subbed in a grade one class yesterday and decided not to bother with name tags since they had names on their desks. It worked o.k. until we all moved to the carpet for music and suddenly they were nameless! Is there an age where name tags would be considered babyish? I sub k-6.