Interviews with educators

I interviewed these educators to help me build the Faces app.

1. Aleksandra Tomovic (English teacher and co-founder of Savvy)

I play games. We are taking turns and each person has to tell their name and food(or any other word) that starts with the same letter as his name.
Next person has to repeat what previous students said and add his name and food. I go last, and I have to repeat everyone else’s names and foods. Sometimes we use the ball. For example, I say my name and then throw my ball to one of the students. Then he has to say his name and throw the ball to someone else. We throw the ball like that until everyone had a chance to say their name. Then we go to the next level of that game. You have to say your own name and the name of the person you are throwing your ball to. Sometimes we play musical names or dancing names. For each letter of your name, you have to come up with melody or dance move.

2. Dusica Gajic (History teacher)

Usually, I remember them by some specific characteristics or if someone stands out, in a positive or negative way. Also, I ask my students to say their name first before they speak. I’ve heard that some of my colleagues use name cards.

3. Nena (Teacher)

I remember them by some distinct features. Also, I use sitting arrangement to remember faster. If someone stands out I remember them first. It would be great if I had some photos with names of the students.

4. Arsic Milica (English teacher)

I have really hard time remembering all the names because I often switch between schools. Usually, I can only remember those kids that stood out somehow, for example, if a student is really bright, active or if someone is naughty. In one of my classes children put up name cards in front of them and that was really helpful.

5. Aleksandra Petrovic (Speech Therapist & founder of First Word)

Before I’ve started working I couldn’t remember names very well, especially when I meet someone new. I thought that I would never be good at this and I frightened the situation when I’d call the student by the wrong name, or talk to their parents. How can I remember all those things about students? After 2 or 3 months I knew names of all the kids I work with and also specific things about them. Whenever I had spare time I would read children’s names and try to visualize them. Now, after 9 years I’m able to remember names, last names not so much.

6. Jelena Oklobdzija (Italian teacher)

I can divide children into groups that I think of. When groups are smaller you get an impression that there aren’t so many kids and it automatically gets easier. This works very well when there are a lot of students with same names. Maybe someone would not approve my way of grouping children so it is a good thing if a teacher has a way to keep groups private. I find name cards and sitting charts the most helpful thing you could have.

7. Ph.D. Milena Pantic (Assistant Professor)

I remember those who stand out. For example today one of the students signed himself with blue pen, while others did it with black and that immediately popped up as something different. I tend to ask them for their name over and over again until I learn. We use e-learning and each student has the option to upload a photo, change text color, a font of their name etc. I would love to have the ability to print things about students. I also use numbers, symbols, photos, it depends on what works for me in a specific situation. Sometimes I divide students into groups and assign a color to each group. It happens that some students want to be remembered, and then they’ll help you learn their names really fast.

8. Rajic Vladimir (Computer science teacher)

I try to remember where everyone sits, and that helps me a lot. I give each desk a name based on who sits there. I categorize them by colors based on how much I know about them. Also, I call roll and ask students to say their name before they speak. It’s hardest for me to remember those students that are quiet and withdrawn.

9. Filip Simecki (Basketball coach)

I find something unique for each student and that’s it, no mistakes.

10. Predrag Milutinovic (Student assistant & mentor on Scientific projects)

When I was working at the university I was doing lab exercises with students and I used model those before me set. Everyone had their place and I had the map of the classroom with names of each student next to the place where they sit. You can remember all of the names pretty fast this way. Also, it is very useful to use names in conversation. For example, Thank you Nenad. Good work Nenad… I remind myself few times with the map and that’s it. For certain period of time, I worked as a mentor for groups of 2 to 3 students and that was much different. You have direct communication and you learn their names instantly, after only one session. Also, I kept records for each student.

11. Irena Ajdacic (mechanical engineering professor)

I remember them by their last names. For the last couple of years, I had so many students with same names that it started to make more sense to me to call them by their last name. Also, I connect their faces or names with something familiar to me. For example, if student’s name is Fillip I’ll remember that because it’s the same as my son’s name.

12. Zorica Gosev (professor)

I have students sit down in a circle on the first day and then we start playing a game. First I will introduce myself by saying Zorica Tinker. The student next to me has to repeat what I said and add his own name e.g. Zorica Tinker, Nenad Sleepy and so on. We go trough couple of turns and you have to watch students as you repeat their name. You can give them adjective that describes them and starts with the same letter as their name, like Amusing Ann, Brave Ben, Clumsy Claire, Dreamy Dave… Games are great because you learn their names and something about them very fast but they also get to know each other better.

13. Dina Vulovic (English professor)

Someone suggested me to try repeating the name when I meet someone. For example, when a student says My name is Marc, I say Nice to meet you, Marc. This way my professor managed to remember all of our names right away(there were 20 of us in the class) back then when I was a student. I get to know children’s names very fast since I have only classes with 8 students or so.

14. Sretko Divljan (Art professor)

Before the lesson, I call roll. Each time I give them results of a test or question them I call them by their name. This is something that all of my colleagues do and repeating is a way of refreshing your memory. When you talk to students in a class you ask them to introduce themselves. I try to use their names, last names, nicknames every time we speak and sometimes I ask them to put name cards in front of them.

15. Marina (Elementary Teacher)

I don’t have any specific tricks. I ask for their names every time I can’t remember and that’s it.

16. Miroslav Milosevic (mechanical engineering professor)

I found it easier to remember the students by their last name and later by the first. And I tried to stick to the first one because it felt more personal. Students that stood out are the ones how got remembered first.

17. Nadica Banjanska (Elementary Teacher)

I make badges for each first grader. They make an association to their name while we speak and that helps me a lot.

18. Maja Markovic (Teacher)

To be honest I had 50 classes for these 5 years because I have to substitute my colleagues often. Somehow it became easier for me, I learn kid’s names for one day. The big problem for me is learning names of parents and other teachers. I try to find something distinct about every child, something about their face, the way their dress or behave. If you can’t do it that way you can always have them write names on cards and keep those cards in front of them so you can see them when necessary.

19. Mina (English professor)

I usually remember names by remembering something specific for each student. Sometimes I ask students to say their names and then I repeat after them. We can play a game with the ball when all of the students throw the ball to each other but first they have to say their name and something about them.

20. Mladen Cudanov (Associate professor)

One of the important things is that you have to care enough to remember. Name-tags are an obvious solution, or connecting students in some kind of groups where there are photos like LinkedIn, Viber… This can help you when you go trough assignments. I remember names by connecting them to people I know personally.

21. Ivana Stojic (Art history professor)

From my experience, it works if you connect children’s names with people you know. For example, I connect names of students I teach with names of the people I went to school with. This method covers like 70 % of the names and for the rest of the names I use association with famous names from art history. I think that writing card names can be great but for teenagers, this can be not so good idea because they want to express themselves in all sorts of ways including writing something totally different than their names on the cards.

Other interviews

Marija Gomirsek (Mother of two)

At kindergarten where my sons attend they do the call roll at the beginning of each day and sometimes few times during the day. Babies have their names on pacifiers and bottles. All other kids bring their bottles with them wherever they go and they all have names written on them. One of my friends who is teacher gives their students test on the first day because results help him remember names. Violin teacher that I know calls roll and writes all names in the notebook.

Ivana Radic

In France, teachers get photos of students with their names before school starts and that helps them prepare. So if you have 30 students in the class you as a teacher will get 30 photos with names and learn from there.

Aleksandar Mihajlovic

I remember my teacher from high school had a notebook where she drew sitting arrangement for each class with names next to the student’s desks. And also she added signs next to each name, like star, pencil, glasses etc.

Jovana Gajic

– Flash Cards game to force your brain to recall the names because that act forces you to learn the name.
– Similar phrases to an original name like Lisa – Mona Lisa; Robert – Robot…
– Ask students to provide unique non-uniform photos of themselves with a name written on the back of the photo.
– Promise to kids that you will remember their names (commitment) and keep the promise, otherwise punish yourself in some way or reward.
– Students need to shout out names every time they interact with each other.
– Connect the personal short stories with student’s name.
– Connect students progress (profile) with their name.
– Take a quiz occasionally to straighten the memory (only photos or only names).

Nikola Balog

When I attended german language course we had name cards in front of us for a week and at the beginning of each lesson professor would make us turn cards and she tried guessing the name. After a week she knew all of us.


I interviewed these educators to help me build the Faces app.