Knowing Our Students' Names

I’m terrible at remembering names! That’s why I work so hard at trying to get to know the names of my students on the first day of class.

My inspiration comes from a college professor I had at Loyola University, a Jesuit priest, who brought in a Polaroid camera on the first day of class, arranged us in groups of 5 or 6 (the class had over 50 students!), took photos, and had us write our names on the back of the photo in the order we were standing.

The very next day, as we entered class, he greeted every single one of us at the door BY NAME! And this was a college theology course!

The sooner we get to know our students’ names, and use those names, the better our rapport with them will be.

God calls us each by name. Let’s use those names!

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at


  1. What a great idea! This is much better than having the kids wear (or have at tables) name tags. I think it provides a more open, welcoming community to really take the time to know the kids.

    Thanks –

  2. You’re welcome, Judi. It would probably be a good idea to follow up by posting the pictures on the bulletin board in your learning space, perhaps accompanied by a sign or lettering that expresses the theme of the year in your parish or of the grade level that you are teaching or something simple such as “Here I am, Lord!”

  3. I like the idea as well….however in this day and age of catechists needing to be finger printed before we can teach… we need to get a permission slip signed by the parents to be able to take pictures even of groups of students during gatherings or activities. So as much as I like the idea, I suggest checking with your DRE as to any rules that may be in place.

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