At what point do you start forgetting student names?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TrademarkTer, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Habitué

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    Jan 7, 2018

    What I mean is this....I have only been teaching for 6 years, but I am proud to say that I would remember the names of any of my former students if they were in front of me today (some might take a second to recall, but I would get there). After how many years of teaching does this become impossible, or have you been teaching for 20+ years, and could still name them all (obviously ignoring the fact that they could change appearance considerably in that time).?

    Obviously this is different secondary vs elementary as I have about 120 students per year, whereas an elementary teacher generally only has 1 class (at least in my area),
     
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  3. Hokiegrad1993

    Hokiegrad1993 Companion

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    Jan 7, 2018

    It depends on the person. I know when I was in elementary school, ( I am 24 now) and when I did my internship at the school teachers still remembered me.
     
  4. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Groupie

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    I almost always remember student names, but sometimes it takes me a second to recall some student’s names. This is my 4th year, BTW, at the same school. I have an accelerated memory, so recall is easy for me. I hope that it stays that way into old age, lol.
     
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  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    Science teacher chiming in. I treat my brain very much the way I treat my computer - I tend to delete unnecessary "files", and that includes long gone student names, from my active memory. My husband remembers the names of all the patients he has ever had (the animals), but struggles to remember the owner's names. He also has no sense of important dates, family history, or where I put the coffee. I am his "Siri" - instead of freeing up some "disk space" by forgetting a dog's name from 30 years ago, I hear from the kitchen "Where is the _____________ (almost anything)" He also doesn't know his own SSN, let alone mine or our son's, when our anniversary is, anyone's birthdate, how old anyone is, etc. - you get the picture. I have made no effort to remember students who I will seldom, if ever, see again. That started when I subbed heavily. The running joke was that it was bad if I knew your name immediately, because that always fell into two categories (one much larger than the other): you were amazingly bright and helpful, or, you were frequently the person in the midst of, or the instigator of class disruption. It is never good to be someone that the sub learns your name and what you did wrong, because that always goes into the write up of the day. That was only partly in jest.

    I don't want to be one of those people who can't learn new things as they age. I know many of those, and it isn't my cup of tea. Forgetting or getting rid of the unimportant stuff frees up "hard drive" for future learning. The neuroplasticity that is built in learning trumps remembering some kids name from 20 years ago, IMHO. I have wonderful recall for everything that matters or is vital. Obviously remembering names of little children who have changed so much that I wouldn't recognize them anyway is in my delete file.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
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  6. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Groupie

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    I am the type of person who remembers just about everything, such as dates, where I put my possessions, future events in my schedule, etc. I don’t know how I could function if I was routinely forgetful. In fact, my students always comment how I seem to remember everything from what they wore, to what time they walked into the classroom, to where the problems in the book are and what pages they’re on, plus else.

    When I was younger I always thought people’s brains worked liked this, haha. We all think and remember differently. It’s very fascinating to me.

    And this begs the question: Why are some people so forgetful? I’ve read about how certain animal species seem to have better recall than most humans. For example, I read about a specie of bird that can easily remember over 2,000 different places where it stores its food. How is a bird with a much smaller brain able to remember such things when our brains weigh more than it and can’t, in some cases, remember something that happened five minutes ago?
     
  7. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Habitué

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    I guess the thing is I don't do anything to actively remember the names so I don't necessary think of it that way. The way you make it sound is as though forgetting is an active process, as in we decide we are going to allow ourselves to forget something. (And actually, now that I googled it, it turns out that you would be correct that it is an active process, but I never viewed it that way as I felt it just happens). I forget, for example, most of what I learned in high school Spanish or what I wore last week, primarily because I don't use that information on a daily basis, but I don't use the names of former students for anything either, yet that memory remains.
     
  8. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    I have difficulty remembering the names of my current students! I warn them of this the first day and apologize in advance; I always have a seating chart with pictures at hand. However, I rarely forget a face, and can tell my grads exactly where they sat in my classroom.
     
  9. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Habitué

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    INTERESTING wrinkle---see I can do all the names and faces. I let them choose their seats, I certainly couldn't tell you who sits where.
     
  10. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I have been teaching way too long to remember all those student names. I do remember the memorable ones, however, good or bad. I have a much better time remembering faces.
     
  11. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    So you have, in essence, given yourself permission to make that very low priority information. When we are filling our minds with boatloads of vital info, that will, indeed, go into the trash can. I have remarkably sharp memories, but I am selective about the memories. Suzie who wanted to be called Su is just not something permanent file worthy in my brain. Bye, Suzie Su!
     
  12. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Yes, I agree with you. My husband is the one I rely on to remember dates, phone numbers, addresses, etc. He has an excellent memory for things like that.
     
  13. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    FWIW, although I had always done this to some extent, it wasn't until I was earning the MEd. in ESL that I found out why my mind works this way. I had long ago joked about the things that I considered temporary files, and that I "deleted" that information to free up space for future use, the neuroplasticity and laying down connecting pathways is proven in ESL. If an ESL student doesn't need all of the information we present, they will sift through it and save permanently the parts that work for them. This is part of the reason why ESL students who study English later, instead of as young children, will often persist with some "broken" English - they are able to communicate their thoughts with it, often quite successfully, so all of those other rules, circumstances, and unusual situations are jettisoned. They have given themselves permission to just remember what works for them in their situation. If their situation changes, such as attending college, they will have to work very hard to rebuild those pathways since now they are necessary to the new situation.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  14. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Phenom

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    Jan 7, 2018

    At 25 years with over 100 students a year, I don't think that I could recall all of them without some kind of trigger. I remember some of them when I see them, but I can't remember their names. Sometimes I remember names, but doubt I'd remember them if I saw them again. It is also different to recognize them as adults because so many of them (especially boys) change so much from middle school.
     
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  15. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    Jan 7, 2018

    My first group of 2nd graders are now in college.

    Often, when I'm out and about, a teenager (high school/college kid) will smile at me. Sometimes, after thinking for a bit, I can place them and remember their name (after they've already walked away). Other times, though, I have no idea who they are. ETA: keep in mind that I haven't seen many of them since they were 7-8 years old.

    There are, however, some kids you never forget. A few weeks ago, I ran into a kiddo (she's a senior in high school) and she asked, "Do you remember me?" I looked at her for a few seconds and said, "Oh. My. Goodness. It's (insert first and last name)!!!" We immediately hugged each other and she reminded me that I taught her English because she had come straight from Mexico when she enrolled at my school as a 2nd grader. I was thrilled to see her. I think the feeling was mutual, though.

    This thread is a good reminder of why I love what I do.
     
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  16. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Devotee

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    Jan 7, 2018

    I think anyone on here will agree with me on this:

    You'll end up remembering your favorite students' names. We're not supposed to have favorites but we all know we have them. We'll also remember the troublemakers!!! Probably because we have to call them out by name every single day! It's those middle-of-the-road students whose names I just have had trouble remembering.....
     
  17. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    It really varies for me. Generally I learn names very quickly, but can also forget very quickly. I probably don't remember half of my students from 2 years ago, but I do remember some from 5 years ago. And no, they're not always the favorites. The ones that I remember stood out somehow, but being great, or difficult, or interesting, or any other ways.
     
  18. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    This is my 8th year of teaching. I feel like if I saw pictures of all of my former students I could remember their names. I'm not sure I'd be able to put it together seeing them as young adults if they looked much different; some of my first students are now out of HS. I do have an incredibly good memory. My teammates are always asking me how I can remember certain things.

    My dad is also a teacher and his memory is awful, especially for things like names. He really struggles with learning his students' names every year and certainly doesn't remember them when they move on. Earlier this year he told me he couldn't remember the names of any of the pets he had when he was younger. I couldn't believe that! Not only do I very clearly remember all of the pets we had growing up, but I also remember pets that my grandparents and aunts and uncles had.
     
  19. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    Wait until you are his age to pass judgement.
     
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  20. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jan 7, 2018

    Gradually it took me longer and longer to learn student names. But I might have been more invested in learning names earlier in my teaching and less invested later on. I've been known to call students by the names of past students I've had if they seemed similar (or if they were siblings). Some students I will never forget. The majority I will remember the faces of, but the names are gone half way into the next year.

    I've definitely been in the situation where I've met a prior student in a different setting (i.e. their part-time job) and I can't for the life of me remember their name.

    To be fair, many of my students would forget MY name even during the school year. lol
     
  21. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Jan 8, 2018

    My first group of 8th graders (in 1978) are now about mid 50s. I have taught 40 years now. Up to about 12 years ago I could remember most of my students. And I had all the students in the school for PE. Now some have slipped from my mind unless they stood out some how. I have lterally taught over 100 kids whose parents I taught and even a few grandchildren.
     

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