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Shirley, Shirley, Bo Birley: The Name Game

21 Jun 2016 by Tracy Jones

Does anyone remember the song The Name Game? It was recorded by Shirley Ellis way back in 1964. The lyrics were really catchy: “Shirley! Shirley, Shirley bo Birley Bonana fanna fo Firley fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley.” Anyway, that’s how the song started and it continued to make rhyming words with names. To this day I can remember every one of the names in that song. But, when I conduct a training, I struggle to learn the names of my participants. Here are a few tips that I use that might help you too. 

Look at the names in your trainer panel

This helps me become familiar with some of the more common names and some of the more unique names. As an Affiliate Trainer you may already know some of your participants and will probably be entering those names into your Affiliate Trainer panel yourself. That’s another good way to begin learning them.

Use name tents

I always supply blank name tents and ask the participants to write their name on the front and the back. That way, I can see their name and face when I’m presenting and when I walk behind them while they are scoring. Sometimes I use the sticky name badges, but the tents work better for me.


Greet each participant 

I introduce myself and I ask them their name. And then I try to use their name almost immediately. This helps make sure that I heard their name correctly and that I am learning to pronounce it correctly as well.

Create cheat sheets

I take a piece of paper and draw a diagram of how the tables are set up. As people introduce themself I write their name on the diagram to show where they are sitting. This is probably one of the most helpful tricks I have learned. While they are watching an exemplar video, I’m studying my name cheat sheet. I also use that page to make notes to myself concerning information that I need to mention to the group, such as filling out evaluations, testing dates, and so forth.

Engage in personal conversations

I try to have a brief, but personal conversation with each of my participants. I usually do it during a short break or at lunch or at the end of the day. Once I learn a little bit about that person it makes it easier to remember their names.

Learning and using our participants’ names during the training is just as important as it is for the classroom teacher to use their students’ names. It’s a sign of respect and it sets the stage for a great interaction. And we all know that interactions matter!

Now let’s see if I can do this, “Tracy!, Tracy Tracy, bo bacy Bonana fanna fo Facy, fee fy mo Macy Tracy!”

What name memorization tips do you use? Please share in the CLASS Affiliates Facebook group. We're always looking for new tips and strategies.

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