Do You Know Your Students’ Names Yet?

If you’ve been in class for a couple of weeks already, I have a question for you: do you know your students’ names yet?

Calling your religious education students by name is very important. It shows that you take a real interest in them as unique individuals. It shows that you care. It shows that you honor their presence.

It also gives you leverage when it comes to keeping order in class. To call someone by name is to have a certain degree of power or authority over them (this is why the Jewish people do not speak God’s name because we cannot have power or authority over God). By the way, did you notice how often Sarah Palin used Charlie Gibson’s name in their interview? She was obviously coached to do so because it lends to an aura of authority, an image that she and her handlers obviously feel they need to convey.

Calling your students by name helps to establish a good rapport – people in general respond positively when referred to by name. (If you watch The Simpsons, you’ll recall that in the famous episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, Homer’s motive was that Mr. Burns never remembers his name!)

Luckily, I have only 13 young people in class so it didn’t take me long to get to know their names. I put myself on the hot seat last week at the start of class, saying, “OK let’s see if I can call you each by name.” With the pressure on, I was able to go around the horn, hesitating 2 or 3 times before a name connected with a face, eventually naming them all correctly. (Of course, it helped that they had assigned seats…if I bump into them on the street, I may not be able to be quite as successful!)

Anyway, I wish you well with your next session and I encourage you to take a stab at learning all of your students’ names. After all, God calls us each by name!

About Joe Paprocki 2746 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

2 Comments on Do You Know Your Students’ Names Yet?

  1. I was fortunate to know some names already since my grandson is in the class and I have taught older siblings. We just had our first session, so it will probably take another one before I know all of them. I find that it is easier to bring them to mind, since as soon as I get the list, I add them individually by name to my daily prayer list.

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