2.5 Getting to know your students

It is very helpful to get to know your students quickly and by name. Particularly for those GTAs teaching more than one class, this can be easier said than done. LSE students (and staff!) are drawn from over 150 different countries and may have names which are both difficult for you to pronounce and remember because they are unfamiliar.

Here are some strategies for learning names quickly that you may find helpful.

  • Print out a class list, which can include student photos, from your LSE for You website. Annotate this list to include the names that students like to be called by (which might be totally different from the one on the register!).
  • Provide plastic badges or sticky name badges for the students and try and give the badges to the right students at the beginning of each class. GTAs who use this method say that they know all the names after the first three classes.
  • Discreetly note seating arrangements when taking the register. This enables you to use people's names even if you have not yet learned which face goes with which name.
  • Ask students to sit in the same place in the classroom for the first few weeks and make a sketch of the room plan with the students' names marked on it (one GTA said that they drew this marked room plan on the whiteboard in the classroom and it helped the class members learn each other's names too).
  • To help with pronunciation, spell names phonetically on the class list and ask the students to correct you if you make mistakes.
  • A GTA reported that, as a class, students had invented names for each other using the same first letter, eg Helpful Hannele, Lively Li and Gentle Georgiana, which had not only helped in remembering names but had also broken the ice.

As well as learning names it can be helpful to collect some other key information about your students. For example, where are they from? What other courses are they studying? What's their interest/motivation to do the course? Which students live in the same neighbourhood (useful if you want students to work together outside of class)? Who has good IT skills (to encourage them to share skills/teach each other)?

Students who have disclosed that they have a disability may have an Individual Student Support Agreement (ISSA) (see Appendix 9 for an example) arranged with them by the Disability and Well-being Service. Students may prefer to keep their disability confidential from their fellow students, and indeed can choose to keep it confidential from you. Whether or not students have disclosed a disability, it is important that you teach in ways that will not disadvantage students with disabilities. Some that you may not 'see' include dyslexia, hearing impairment and chronic fatigue. See Section 3.5| for guidance on inclusive practice and Section 4.5| for information about teaching students with dyslexia and other neurodiverse conditions.

It is also useful to ask your students to tell you who their academic adviser  is, especially if they are studying your course outside of their home department.

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