Is it time that we all took on this #studentnamechallenge?

Today, our JK-Grade 2 students went to see Theatre Ancaster’s wonderful performance of Annie. 

As with most Kindergarten field trips, in addition to watching the show, I also spent a lot of time waiting for children outside of the bathroom. The performance was held at Ancaster High School, so as I waited, I ran into many students that I taught before. For nine years, I taught multiple grades at Ancaster Meadow School, and it was many of these students (in addition to some of their siblings) that I saw today. 

When the students shouted out, “Hey, that’s Miss Dunsiger” — or I noticed them — I made sure to say “hi.” I was thrilled that I could call each of these previous students by name. I’ve written before about the positive impact that using names can have on children, but I really saw this today. These students beamed when I used their name. One girl even leaned over to hear friend and said, “She really, really remembers me!” I do. I remember her and her sister, and her mom and her dad. I even remember when she came in for her observation visit back in Junior Kindergarten. 

These memories stick, and today was a great reminder for me that not only are these memories special for me, but they’re special for kids! Thomas Ro, an HWDSB principal, has continued his #studentnamechallenge at his newest school. I love the premise of this challenge, and I love how hard Thomas has worked at learning the names of all of the students. Last week, he sent out a tweet with an update of how many names he’s learned at his new school.

Sue Dunlop, one of our Board’s superintendents, shared his tweet with this very important addition.

I think Sue’s right. Thomas should challenge others to take on this challenge, but not just other administrators. Teachers, caretakers, secretaries, support staff, volunteers, and students around the school, all benefit from taking on Thomas’ challenge. In many ways, a connection starts with a name … and these connections matter! Some happy responses from former students today were a great reminder of just how much these connections mean, even many years later.

What do you do to remember names? What impact does it have on students — past and present — when you call them by their name? I think it’s time for even more of us to take on Thomas’ student name challenge … don’t you?



2 thoughts on “Is it time that we all took on this #studentnamechallenge?

  1. Great post Aviva and you’re right. Sometimes it’s the simple acts that can lead to big impressions on students. It’s really just a simple way to know students and build trusting relationships. It starts with the names but leads to more questions and meaningful conversations about them (likes, dislikes, family, etc.) It’s more than just memorizing names. It’s an entry point into building relationships with the students in our schools.

    • Agreed Thomas! Using names often show we care, but it’s as we learn these names that we also learn so much more about kids. I was reminded of this today, as what stuck with me about student was not just the name. I think your “student name challenge idea” is worth spreading.


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