Remember the Name

We have passed the census date and the students who are in your class are likely staying there. Do you know who they are? 

No judgment here, I have never been great at remembering student names and when we returned to teaching in person after, I discovered what little talent I had for remembering names was significantly diminished. It can also be intimidating if you see a name you don’t know how to pronounce and reverting to a pronoun or calling on a student by pointing can be less intimidating. 

Hard as it may be, this is one of the most critical steps you can take toward building an inclusive classroom. There is an excellent guide from the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning from Yale where the center highlights the importance of correct names and pronouns for inclusion and respect. I want to highlight just two of the techniques we have previously featured when covering this topic

  • A 2014 tip from Kate McCarthy: “Ask them to use their name each time they speak in class, and repeat their names in your responses.”
  • Adapted from a 2019 tip by Josh Trout: Use the Portal Roster function or now the Canvas “People” tab to associate names with photos. Be sure to upload your own photo to Canvas to model the behavior you want to encourage. 

This is not the first time the Tuesday Teaching Tip has focused on remembering and using student names. I counted seven instances in our archive. It keeps coming up because it is so critical in fostering a sense of belonging in the classroom. I selected this tip for the week because of the timeliness with the census, but also because in a period of rapid change–this remains the same. You don’t need to be an artificial intelligence expert or a whiz at Canvas to get a little better at teaching. Little things like remembering names can have a big impact.

Zach Justus
Interim Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences

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