I’m doomed when it comes to remembering 20-30 names of kids in class that I have just met or haven’t seen for several weeks. Conversely, there seem to be hundreds of kids that know me by sight and name at all the schools I work
When I arrive on campus to pick up the attendance sheet and walk the gauntlet path to my assigned classroom, I’m always greeted by name by students waiting to be allowed on playground before school. I’ll wave back and respond with a non-committal greeting response.
This last month, I’ve been working in the same 5th grade class twice a week while the teacher is getting some kind of medical treatment. After the 2nd week, I could almost put names to faces of about half the class. Even if I couldn’t remember a name, I did recognize the face of every kid that belonged in this class.
It helps remembering names when you have to use them several times a day to get certain people back in the academic instead of entertainment frame of mind. Others I might remember for unusual physical features or characteristics. On the last week of this multi-week assignment, I went to the playground to “collect” my class for the walk to the classroom.
When I was in hearing range, several kids were telling me that they had a new kid in class. Sure enough, the second kid in line was a new face I didn’t recognize.
I said “Hello, What’s your name?” to the newbie boy who gave no response of any kind.
“He doesn’t speak English. He’s from France!” the kid next to him informed me. A quick look at the lesson plan had no notes about a new “French kid” or how I was supposed to work with him.
I’m thinking: “Great! Just great!"
Back at the classroom, I started taking attendance waiting to see which name this kid would respond to.
When I get to “Sam” and the kid responds with “Here!” I repeat the name again using the first and last name I know is absolutely not French in origin and belongs to a kid that doesn't seem to be in class today.
The French kid responds: “Hey Mr. Homework! It’s me! Don’t you recognize me?”
I’m clueless. If I have seen this kid before, I don’t recognize him now.
I take a closer look at “Sam” and remember that “Sam” was the kid I mistook for a girl on that first day because of his long, dark hair, gender neutral build and clothing. He now sports a short haircut and looks totally different. He looks like a boy.
Sam: “I got a haircut because I got tired of everyone thinking I looked like a girl”, he says with a big grin, “Did I fool ya?”
Me: “That you did, Sam. You got me! I just hope I recognize you the next time I’m here”
BTW: This isn’t the first time I had difficulty recognizing boys .vs. girls