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Hi Jerry,
Great suggestions. I will be back in the classroom in a week from Monday. Your positive suggestions or recommendations are great. And like you I find cheesy icebreakers cheesy.
Good luck to you this semester.


I have 4 sections this semester with a total of about 200 students. (my intro section is 100, and two ethics courses are >40 each and one upper division course is about 16). Not sure I can learn that many names very quickly. the Upper division courses are easiest, b/c they fill with majors most of whom I know well already, but the intro section would be a beast. Any recommendations?

Jerry Green

@Teacher: Thanks! Good luck on your first day.

@Gradjunct: Excellent handle, by the way. I can sympathize with your situation: I've got just shy of 200 students this term myself. I'm not sure if there are any shortcuts to learning all those names. I find that I just have to plug away at the photo roster until it sticks. I've found it helpful to keep the roster on me and work on it during downtime, e.g. waiting at the bus stop, or while lunch is in the microwave, or while Netflix is loading.

But here are a couple small things that might help:
1)Use names as much as possible in class (e.g. ask for the students name every time you talk to them or they speak up in class). When you email with a student, look at the roster to pair the face with the name.
2) If possible, have the students sit in the same place every class, so you can at least associate people with places (I find this especially helpful when two students look kind of similar).
3) Break the task into chunks: just try to memorize the names of the first 15 people on the roster in week 1 (or the people in the last 2 rows, or whatever), the next 15 in week 2...
4) There are also some mnemonic devices that seem to help, like associating each student with an alliterative description (e.g. Alice is an athlete, Bob is Browns fan, etc). Accurate is good, but sometimes funny or nonsensical descriptions can be more memorable.
5) Focus on unique features, e.g. 'Carlos has the really long beard, Diep dyed her hair blue'.
6) Try to split your attention between talkative and quiet students. You'll learn the names of the students who speak up every class pretty quickly and effortlessly. So focus your efforts instead on the quieter students.

One common thing that *doesn't* work, in my experience anyway, are name tents (i.e. a folder paper on the desk with their name on it). For me name tents are a cheat that just allow me to read their names, rather than actually learn them. But lots of people use these, so there must be something to it: maybe you'll have better luck than I do.

Hope that helps. Good luck to both of us!

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