What’s in a name?

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By Michael Hunter Schwartz from Washburn University School of Law

Small things matter much more to your students than you might imagine. By and large, students learn best when they feel respected and treated as individuals. What can you do in a class of 70 or 80 or 90 students to manifest your interest in your students?

Get to know their names. Most law schools can provide you with pictures and names of all your students. Convert the pictures and names to flashcards and keep testing yourself over and over until you know all your students’ names by heart. I usually set a goal of memorizing all their names by the end of the first week and bet my classes donuts or cookies that I can recite their names from memory.

The two- or three-minute act of going around the room and letting all your students see that you know everyone’s name outwardly manifests your commitment to know them as individuals. Students have told me many times how much they appreciate the effort.

Make sure you also acknowledge your students outside the classroom. If you see them in the hall or the cafeteria, say hi to them by name.

Your effort even has a side benefit– it helps your students know their peers’ names.

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning