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Monday, January 07, 2008

Name Recognition

First day back from Winter Break and I have been spending most of it remembering the names of my students. I have always been bad at names unless that name would help me win a game of trivial pursuit. So if you were a member of the cast of Gilligan's Island, then your name is etched on my cerrebulum. Thank you very much Alan Hale jr. However, if you are a person of only casual accquaintance or a relative more distant than cousin, then your name may only be recoverable through hypnosis.

It is a sign of a great teacher that they build close bonds to his students, but since names elude me like a squirrel on crack I can only assume that greatness is unattainable. I've heard tell of teachers that make seating charts with photos and then diligently study them at home. This of course would require a level of dedication and organization that I am incapable of.

I have become adept at covering my disability. At parent conference if the student comes with their parent and I am expected to know who that child is, I will ask to see their report card to check their other classes. Not only do I look like I care, but I can also surreptitiously get the studnet's name.

Context is of the upmost importance in recall. Seeing a student in class is relatively simple. When the student is ecounter in other evirons the recollection process is impeded. Forturnately, most of my students have jobs in which they are required to wear a name tag or have it embroidered on their shirt. The same circumstances that result in the wearing of name tags insures that I am unlikely to have chance encounters at the Art Museum or the symphony.

Early in my career I thought that perhaps I did not care enough about the students. I have come to find out that I care just enough. In order to be a good teacher I can't be their friend or parent. Like the doctor that knows everything about you after studying the chart outside the examination room, a teacher needs to have a certain amount of detachment in order to best treat the student.

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