My first two weeks in my new career have come and gone. My biggest challenge? Probably learning all of the student names in a rapid time frame. There probably is some type of parlor trick, but what I am trying to do is to associate them with something they like. You see, I did a student interest survey on the first day of school as a way of building relationships. Of course, if I did not actually USE it, the opposite effect would occur.
By trial and error, I developed a seating chart for each of my 6 classes of 20+ students. I consulted 6th grade teachers to get an idea of what I might expect from each student. I carefully coded the desks. I planned for grouping of students. I made the charts with a duplicate for substitutes, and I then had the charts read the mirror image of what they should have read! Even with that self-imposed impediment (since corrected), I managed to do fairly well with about 60-70% of my students.
Friday was a testing day. I was in a computer lab with my students all day long. They were not seated in any particular order. I then had an idea. I started to memorize the students by who they were just a few at a time until I was able to name the whole class. Of course, by the next school day, my batting average dipped a bit. But, that activity did a lot for my confidence in being able to move forward. In fact, I would probably have to say that I am further ahead in memorizing my students' names than I am in memorizing my colleagues' names!
I added a few things to my seating charts, though. I took an interest from the survey and wrote it on the chart. One likes to eat frog legs, and another lived in Georgia (the state, not the town in Vermont). Some like playing a sport, and another likes bugs. One collects rocks, and another wants to visit China some day. I also recorded birth dates. Today, which is the first day of my new charts, I asked the frog leg connossieur if she gigged any frogs over the weekend. I asked another where in Georgia he lived. It seems to have made a difference.
Although this is memorizing names in a classroom, one could transfer this idea to anything. What if you were at a gathering and you jotted down a name and interest? Wouldn't that be helpful to build a business relationship? One more thing I added to my chart was whether or not my students liked reading....which is a key component of my subject area. I managed to be fairly fortunate to not have grouped four non-readers together. I hope within a few days, I will know my students well enough to call them by name--outside of my classroom.