Teachers, please remember our names

Sometimes something miraculous happens. For instance when you meet a teacher from long ago who remembers your name. Unforgettable, says Maaike.

My high school days ended a bit odd. I had failed my exam. At my classmates’ graduation ceremony, I received congratulations from the very same teacher with whom I discussed continuing my school career a week earlier (I was going to retake some subjects in adult education). It was only seven days later and he didn’t remember.

Recently, I was working for the HanzeExperience, an event where high school students can get acquainted with Hanze. My former secondary school also came along. I saw the PE teacher and the art teacher. ‘Hey’, the art teacher said. ‘You are a former student of ours.’ I felt honoured. ‘Yes, I am!!!’

Etched in my memory: one lecturer I had in my second year still knew my name a year later

In high school, I didn’t stand out. I did my best, I paid attention, not much more than that, a bit of a goody-two-shoes. I never thought those two teachers would recognise me. They didn’t know my name, but that didn’t matter. It was quite something that they still recognised my face after six years.
In fact, I am positively surprised when a Physio lecturer still remembers my name. One lecturer I had in my second year was still calling me by my name a year later. That moment is etched in my memory.

Teachers who recognise a name, a face, or both. That does more to a student than you might think. Dear teacher, if you have given up on learning names, if you are tired of investing in students or if you are completely done listening to yet another student’s story. Please, realise that it means a lot: it is a token of recognition.

Learning a student’s name may take some time, but it is super healthy for your brain

Students may not always be nice. We are not always kind. Not always patient. We sleep in class when it suits us better. We’d rather talk to our classmates than listen to you. Despite that, we appreciate it when you say hello when you meet us in the street (even if we sometimes find it a bit awkward if you notice us stumbling out of town).

Learning a student’s name may take some time, but it is super healthy for your brain: it can lower your risk of dementia. In short, remember your students, and if you can, their names too. Just do it, you will make yourself unforgettable. Meeting these two former teachers made me look back on my high school days differently. Although I did not feel seen then, now I know that I was.