Amid your other beginning-of-the-season tasks, you’ll probably be trying to learn the names of all your new students. If you’re lucky, a lot of the same dancers will be returning to your classes, but in some cases you may need to commit 50 or so new names to memory. This is a tricky task, especially if you’re not great with names to begin with or if there are five different Ashley’s to remember. Here are some ideas for dance teachers on how to quickly learn the names of your new dance students.
1. Study the Class Roster
If you know it’s going to be a challenge to learn the names of a new group of dancers, give yourself a head start. Duquesne University’s Center for Teaching Excellence explained that it is often helpful if you study the class roster before your first session. This way, you’ll be familiar with the names and will just need to associate them with the right faces. Take a few minutes to review the list after your first few classes and make notes of which names are giving you trouble.
2. Be Honest
You might not want to be the teacher that outwardly admits you struggle to remember names, but that type of honesty is often beneficial. Tell your students that you’re going to learn their names as quickly as you can and set an ideal date for yourself. Chances are that they’ll help you out if they see you’re floundering for someone’s name. This will speed the process along and help you start to build relationships with your students.
3. Make a Conscious Effort
Many times you may struggle to remember names simply because there’s too much going on around you. If you’re silently running through your lesson plan and distracted by kids messing around in the waiting room, you won’t be giving names your full attention. Forbes magazine recommended that you make a conscious decision to focus during roll call. This can really make a big difference in learning the names of all your dancers.
4. Start Classes with a Name Game
If you’re working with younger dancers, don’t be afraid to play fun ice-breaking name games during the first few classes.
“If you can’t remember their names, chances are they can’t remember each others names either,” explained one teacher on Dance.net. “For little ones, every few weeks we play some sort of ‘game’ where everyone says their name.”
With young students, you can ask them to say their names and demonstrate their favorite dance moves. Another option is to pair them up and have the duos share fun facts about each other. You can use similar games with older students, but try to make them a little more advanced or challenging.
5. Try Word Association or Alliteration
Another trick that many teachers use to learn names is to pair each student’s name with some sort of memorable identifier. For example, if you have a student who just moved to town from another state, try to come up with some way to remember that fact. It might lend itself nicely to some alliteration – like Jane from Jersey – or you may have to get a little more creative. Another method of assign identifiers is to pick up on students’ attire, makeup or overall appearance. You’re more likely to remember a cute quip, such as “redheaded Riley” or “sparkly Sarah.”
This tactic is particularly effective if you’re struggling to keep straight a few students with the same name. Maybe you’ll have Limber Liz, Loveable Liz and Lacey Liz – say that five times fast! Whatever nicknames you choose, just make sure they’re positive, in case you accidently use one out loud.
When you find a method of learning names that works for you, it will be much easier to identify your students within the first few classes. When you know their names by heart, it will help you to build personal relationships and give each individual the attention he or she deserves.