In my younger days, I found it easy to learn the names of all the students in my classes in the first week or two, but I find that it is getting more difficult as I get older. In my early years of teaching, I would know student names in a class of < 50 students within a week, and in classes up to 150 in a few weeks. [I have a colleague - who reads this blog - who learns the names of all students, even in classes with hundreds of students, but even in my youth I maxed out at 150].
Now it takes me a few weeks to learn 20-30 names. I think it is important to learn student names, and I am embarrassed if I don't know all the names in a class of < 30 after a couple of weeks.
I don't work any less hard at it than I ever have -- before and after the first classes, I study the enrollment lists and student photographs (though most students, especially seniors, do NOT look anything like their official photos). This certainly helps, but I don't really learn all the names until I have handed back 1 or 2 assignments.
It also helps that students tend to sit in the same seats each time. The fact that there are certain very common names is both a help and a hindrance to learning names. For example, this year there are four (4!) Alexanders in a class of about 20 students. This makes it difficult for the name Alexander to correspond to a particular face in my memory, but it increases my chances of being right if I call a random male student Alexander.
6 months ago