I don’t know all my students’ names. In fact, I don’t know the majority of their names. I recognize almost all of them. I notice when they get haircuts, and I can pick out a new pair of glasses in class. But, I don’t know all their names.

This bothers me. Perhaps it shouldn’t. I teach nearly 900 students every week. Plus, Korean names are very difficult for me to say (poor excuse). The only students I do know by name are the ones who also have English names.

I see my students everywhere. It’s no surprise by now. Just this evening I saw a student playing with her mother in a nearby park. I didn't know her name. We waved. Then someone shouted, “Hello, Chase Teacher!” out the window of a car driving by. It was Andy. At least I think it was Andy.

Around the corner from the park I passed two children jumping rope. I heard them whispering my name, so I turned around, smiled, and watched them hop for a bit. I could tell how much they appreciated the attention. I didn't know their names either.

I wish I could call each one of my students by name when I see them around town. I can’t imagine having a teacher that doesn’t know my name. Can you?

Most of my students desire a connection, just as much as I want to connect with each one of them. Simply seeing a student light up when I say their name in class is proof that it matters.

“Teacher,” Jason said few days ago, “You remember my name!”

I’ll never forget what someone said to me many years ago, after I told them I was bad at remembering names.

“It’s because you don’t take the time to listen, to learn them.”

Even though it seems like it would be nearly impossible for me to ever know all of my students by name, I want to figure out a way to learn as many as possible. I need to come up with some sort of personal, secretive, name game to play. Any ideas?


  1. Catherine Oliver1:32 AM

    Our lecturers at university have huge sheets with photos of us on it. You know the ones who take time to study it. It takes time and lots of memorising but it pays off with better interaction with the class. Time to take photos of your 900 students?

    1. Hello friend! I've thought about doing this. In fact, I think I will! Thank you! Some of my students are really, really shy when it comes to being in photos. But, I bet I can figure out a way to make it a class project in which they'll HAVE TO have a photo taken.


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