I asked my class, whether they believed a "gift" exists where people automatically know people's names. For example, if this person had this "gift" they would be like Santa Claus, knowing everyone's name without having really met them. So, if I had this "gift" I would know everyone's name before they even walked in on the first day of school.
Students discussed and voted. A majority of them didn't believe this "gift" existed.
I remember this one name, I mispronounced it at least 8 times. The student was understanding, as I believe he has gone through this process before. Now, I can say his name correctly. The worst mistake I made is when I publicly went around the classroom and tried to name people. I could see the hope in the eye of almost every student to see whether I would get their name correct. When I did, for about 85% of them, there was a sigh of mental and social relief. However, for those few that I said the wrong name, both minor and major mistakes, there was this look that I had some how wronged them. I felt horrible.
However, I operated under the banner that I will make mistakes and that is the learning process. I'm proud to say that I know every name of my student as a result of making mistakes. I don't have this "gift" of knowing everyone's name without lifting a finger or making a mistakes, nope I learned through the learning process: mistake. learn. grow.