by J J Cohen
Though I once accused Stephanie Trigg of purporting to have face blindness to snub those with whom she doesn't wish to speak, I must admit that when I took the prosopagnosia test to which she links in a post on the subject I flubbed the exercise: a "lucky" grade of 75%, and a lingering anxiety hangover (all the faces looked like various permutations of Shrek to me). No wonder I have such difficulty placing names to visages in the classroom.
I've attempted many ways of compensating over the years. I have each student create card about themselves with name, major, and (most importantly) a picture -- though that doesn't help as much as it sounds, since the picture is good only when it is directly in front of me (Also, snarky students will sometimes give me pictures of themselves dressed for the high school prom, or as a child ... or in one case 95% naked). I have students compose a paragraph about why they are taking the course and I hope that something sticks from the thing. But you know, after teaching more than a thousand students in my lifetime not a lot is sticking any more. Generally I don't remember students well until they come to my office and we chat: then I find the quirk, fact, or passion that will connect them to me and keep them in my memory -- at least for a while.
So, a practical question at this time of year when so many of us have just or are about to return to the classroom: what tricks do you use to remember the names of your students?