Many elementary school teachers assign a number to each of their students, usually in alphabetical order by last name: Josie Abraham is 1, Chris Bradford is 2, etc.
Parents who aren’t accustomed to using student numbers sometimes question this system. Is their child being reduced to a number? Fear not—student numbers are nothing like Jean Valjean’s “Who am I? 24601” identity crisis in Les Misérables. Teachers still call students by name! The student number is merely an administrative helper.
Student numbers make it easy to think through the class in alphabetical order. That way, the teacher doesn’t forget anyone. Examples:
Fire drill. Did we all escape the building?
Roll call. Are we all here?
Quick poll of class. (Student 1, did you read your AR book last night? Student 2, did you?)
Student numbers are shorthand for recordkeeping. Examples:
Lunch count: students move numbered magnets to indicate their choice
Mailboxes: students turn in (and receive) papers in numbered file boxes. The teacher can use the same numbered file boxes year after year. (Most teachers buy these file boxes with their own money!)
Track assignments as they are turned in: the teacher can mark or cross off a student’s number on a master number sheet for each assignment.
Student numbers organize a crowd. Examples:
Tell students to line up in number order. (It’s the same order every time—no need for kids to jockey for position.)
Take turns for doing things in number order. (Usually for a participatory activity—avoids claims that Kayla went first last week, etc.)
At the start of each school year, many students are excited to learn which number they will be assigned this year. Most students memorize the names and corresponding numbers of their classmates, as well.
Student numbers. As Martha Stewart would say, it’s a good thing!