Calling teacher's by first name?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by JenPooh, Sep 17, 2010.

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  1. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Sep 17, 2010

    Calling teachers by first name?

    Hello ladies and gents. It has been a LONG time since I've come here, but a situation has prompted me to want to ask you for your professional opinions.

    My son, who is in third grade, attends a STEM Academy (science, technology, engineering, and math). He has always attended this school, however, this is the first year that the school is being used as a STEM school.

    The school has gone through many changes, and one of the changes is that some teachers are allowing their students to call them by their first names. Not Mr/Mrs First Name...just, First Name.

    Now, I understand that there are many opinions about this, but I am one that leans on the pretty conservative side of it. I do not wish my child to call his teachers by their first names, even if that is what the teacher perfers. We have spent the last eight years of our son's life trying to teach him how to properly address adults and his elders, and we believe that addressing adults with their titles creates that line of authority. The teacher is not my son's "friend"...he is his TEACHER and authority figure. It would be no different than my son calling me Jennifer. ;)

    Luckily, his teacher has his students call him Mr. B, which is perfectly acceptable to me, but the other two third grade teachers do not, and they sometimes team teach all the third grade students...this concerns me if this will become an issue.

    I have been in contact with the principal with this and would just like some of your valued opinions on the matter. He doesn't seem to think it's a big deal, but I do. I really don't care what other students call the teachers, as long as the teachers understand that I am the parent and it is my decision to allow it or not! I have talked to my son about it, and he understands what we expect in our household, thankfully.

    So, my question to you is, what do you think about allowing this? I personally think it's silly. A student is not on the same level as the teacher. Quite frankly, it's a little creepy to me.
     
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  3. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I agree with you. It's a matter of respect, and while there will be those who say it is not disrespectful to call the teachers by their first names (which it is not if the teachers are allowing it), it does sort of put them on the same level, which they are not. I had a professor who, for some reason, almost every student in my class referred to her, in her presence, by her first name. I always called her, "Dr. Last name." For some reason, that just seems more appropriate to me.
     
  4. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Oh, and welcome back to the forum, btw.
     
  5. Sshintaku

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    Some of my language learning students have a really hard time with my last name so a couple of them call me "Ms. Sarah." In that case, I don't mind, but otherwise, it wouldn't fly.
     
  6. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I absolutely, completely, unequivocally, 100% agree with you!!!!
     
  7. JenPooh

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    Yes, one of these teachers has a pretty hard last name, so my son calls her Ms. First Name. I am completely fine with this, as long as that respectful title is still there. She told the kids she prefers just her first name, but as a parent I do not like that so I have instructed my son to call her Ms. First Name and if there is a problem with it he is to come and talk to me. :)
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree with you, 100%.

    You are trying to teach your kids about respect. It's not about how the adult feels about the title, it's about the lesson you're trying to teach your children and the kind of people you're trying to encourage them to grow into.
     
  9. Pisces_Fish

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    I would never let my kids refer to me by my first name. A lot of the teachers at my school do it and it bugs me when it's in front of the kids.
     
  10. Jem

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    Our school uses first names. I have no real opinion. But even if I did, I've learned to just keep my mouth shut. It's a job, regardless of what my students call me, so I'll do as my director asks. But I find it does not make an ounce of difference in behavior or respect with my students. Students who are going to misbehave or talk back to me will do if I'm Mrs.Jem or just Jem.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jem, my issue isn't with the respect for that particular teacher on that particular day.

    It's the whole idea of respect for others in general-- respect for their elders, respect for adults, respect for public officials, and so on.

    My kids do NOT call our neighbors by their first name. It's Mrs. Martin and Mrs. G and Mrs. T. It's not about getting my kids to behave, it's about their long term view of themselves as NOT being the center of the universe. It's preparing them for the fact that they call a priest Father or a boss Mister. It's part of the same parenting philosophy that has kids learning how to look othersrs in the eye when speaking and developing a real handshake.It's about trying to internalize a feeling of respect for others, in all situations. And that begins by addressing adults with a title.

    I think it's about respecting the way that JenPooh is trying to bring her kids up, not about how they behave at school.
     
  12. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Yes, exactly. :)

    I will admit, there are friends of ours who our kids call by their first names. They are VERY close friends though and we usually know when it feels 'ok'. Even though there are some exceptions, the exceptions are very few. The head pastor at our church is referred to as Pastor____. Parents of friends are preceeded with Mr./Mrs....so on and so forth. It's about preparing them for life, and one of those preparations is showing respect by using proper titles.

    I would think that during a time where kids seem to have very little respect for authority, that teachers and adults would be more strict when it came to this type of issue.
     
  13. Major

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    I would NEVER allow a student to call me by my first name........ For me it's just a matter of respect.

    When I was growing up I had the utmost respect for my teachers. For the most part they have all passed on..... I still remember them, and still respect them.

    Whatever success I've achieved in life was due for the most part to those teachers as I had little or no help at home.

    So....... as I type I'm thinking of .... Mrs. Schultz, Mrs. Larkens, Mrs. Myers..... and the list goes on and on....... God bless them...:)
     
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Not only do I prefer my last name, but I like MRS. Last Name. I would always go with the culture of the school in which I worked, but given my 'druthers',I'd pick "Mrs. Last name'.
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think I can speak for many parents, particularly parents who teach, when I say that I look at too many of today's youth and pray that I'm doing a better job with my own kids.

    I see too many young people who assume they are the center of the world. They don't have to answer to anyone and the rules don't apply to them. Sure, adults have always complained about kids. The problem is that too many of these "kids" are legally considered to be adults themselves.

    Things that have traditionally been considered common courtesy-- things like giving your seat up to a pregnant woman or holding a door-- simply do not occur to too many young people today. (I can't tell you how proud I was of Brian a year ago at Disney. Every single time we were on a crowded bus or monorail, he automatically gave up his seat to a woman or elderly man, WITHOUT PROMPTING.) It's about respect, about treating others with courtesy.

    And referring to adults by their title is one of the many small ways in which that respect is shown and taught to our kids. When I see an older person struggling in public, I offer my assistance with a "Sir" or "Ma'am." That sort of respect is a value I want to pass on to my own kids. But it doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's hard to teach respect at home if it isn't expected-- and demanded-- at school.
     
  16. JenPooh

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    Alice, moments like that just melt my heart. It's sad how much chivalry (sp?) has taken a back seat these days.

    Thankfully, my son is pretty good about knowing that our rules top other people's rules. We have an understanding that if this is an issue at school (if the teacher starts pressuring him to call her by her first name) then he is to come and talk to us about it.

    The only time we have this issue of not understanding whose rules top whose, is when we are at grandma's house...*sigh*.:rolleyes:
     
  17. Mrs. R.

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    My kids used to have t-shirts that said "Grandma's got no rules!" (purchased, of course by my Grandma. She loved spoiling my kids, and I let her.)
     
  18. JenPooh

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    I let her too, within reason of course...but for the most part my mom gets away with a lot! :haha:
     
  19. shouldbeasleep

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    Yes, it's a bit creepy. The kids always get a kick out of learning what my first name is...as if they are shocked that I actually have a given name. :)

    With Jem, she's in a specialized school setting and right now, she isn't going to rock the boat, especially since it's a new job.
     
  20. DHE

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    I think that is vital that we teach our children to have proper respect for authority. I would not be comfortable with my students calling me by my first name in any school.
     
  21. JustMe

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    A student today accidently called me Mrs. FirstName. I didn't flinch because, honestly, it didn't register what with everything else going on in the hallway, but he IMMEDIATELY slapped his hands over his mouth and his eyes grew big. He then apologized a couple of times. I thought it was cute he cared. :)

    I think it's sad that I'm considered part of the new generation of insanely rude and self-centered individuals. It seems if I show any kindness at all towards my elders, they are shocked. I held a door open for a very elderly woman going into a store alone this week. I really, really like to think everyone would do that because it seems like the OBVIOUS thing to do and should simply be a "reflex", but she was just so tickled that I did. And a couple weeks ago I stood up for an older lady who was clearly drained from a day working at McDonald's...again, surprised. That's so sad.

    Honestly, I don't know how much saying Mrs. LastName helps towards building respect and so forth, but at this moment I'd rather not experiment and find out the difference. Each year I am becoming more disheartened by my students...and I'm not going to do a single thing to add to that.
     
  22. SunnyReader

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    I would NEVER want the students to call me by my first name. It is a sign of respect to be called Mrs. SunnyReader. In school, I never knew my teachers first names. It never occured to me to ask, and I never wanted to call them by that.
     
  23. Ron6103

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    Interesting discussion. While our students would never use first names, they have (in the past few years it seems) dropped off the "Mr. or Mrs." portion of the names. Many of my students have begun to simply call me by my last name. I've let this go for a bit, but decided it lacks respect.

    The upperclassman have been doing it for several years with me now, so I let it go. But in my freshman classes, I've gone back to asking for "Mr" in front of the last name. That said, they would never dare to use my first name. A few of the snarkier ones tried it, and the death stare pretty much ended that.
     
  24. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Again, speaking as a parent, not a teacher:

    It's part of the bigger picture. If my 3 kids were allowed to call my neighbor "Denise" instead of "Mrs. G." it would imply on some level that they were peers.

    But they're not. Maybe in 15 years when they're adults, she'll say to them "Please, call me Denise." If and when that happens, fine.

    But for now, my 7 and 10 and 12 year olds need to know that she's an adult and they're kids. And if she asks them to lower their voices or whatever, it's not a request on the same level as one from one of their peers.

    Think of the famous line by President Reagan: (and note that I didn't call him "Ron.") Mr. Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!"
    It wasn't a friendly chat between buddies. It was said forcefully, but respectfully. And came across so much better as a result.

    Part of the trouble new teachers have is getting used to being "Miss Lastname." It makes them feel old. That's part of the point--- they're now one of the adults, not one of the kids.

    Every once in a while one of my kids will call me "Alice" as a joke. Then they get the mommy death stare and we kid about it. But they know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they're to call me some form of "Mom." Likewise, all the other adults in their lives have a title of some sort: Dad, Grandma, Aunt, Uncle, Father, Miss, Ms., Mrs or Mister. It's all part of the bigger picture, the way we're trying to bring them up.

    And, to be honest, like JenPooh, I would have an issue with teachers trying to change that very basic principle we're working on so hard with our kids.
     
  25. DHE

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    Alice, this happened to me with one of my mom's good friends, but I could not bring myself to drop the Miss. After all those years, it was ingrained in me to call her Miss K.
     
  26. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    When I got engaged, I picked up a weekend waitressing job to supplement my teaching salary, to help save for the wedding.

    One of the other waitresses was my mom's best friend. Of course, I had to get used to calling her "Mary" instead of "Mrs. S." because we were working together. (And I was 29 at the time.)

    So I did.

    But I've never worked with her husband, so I still call him "Mr. S."
     
  27. tracykaliski

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    Being a Montessori teacher, the kids have always called me by my first name. I have never had a problem with it. My name is NOT Mrs. K., my name is Beth. :)
     
  28. JenPooh

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    I go to church with my third grade teacher. I now teach HER children Sunday School lessons! :haha: It took me at least a year to get up the nerve to call her by her first name. That is just how much I respect her as not only a teacher, but as an adult, and now as a friend...but we were not "friends" while I was growing up...she was my TEACHER, which meant she should be called with a respectful title.

    And yes, her children now call ME Mrs._____. I would be fine with Ms. Jen, or something similar...as long as that title is there.
     
  29. MissScrimmage

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    I work in the same school district I attended as a child. I work with many of the teachers that taught me in elementary/high school. At PD workshops and other district events, I still can't all these teachers by their first names! They have all insisted that now we are colleagues, and I am welcome to use their first names, but I can't do it!! One even reminded me that she is not much older than me...!
     
  30. gigi

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    As a parent, I want my children addressing adults by their last name. There are exceptions, a friend of ours insisted the kids call her "Joey" as that was her nickname. That took some getting used to. My young adult son's friends call H and I Mr. and Mrs. My students address me as Mrs. We have friends with children ages 6 and 4 and they address us as Mrs. J and Mr. W. I am ok with that too, but not in school.
     
  31. Rebel1

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    Alice,
    IT ALL STARTS @ HOME!
    It is what a lot the children are slowly losing. It all goes back to how their parents are teaching them @ home. We need more parents like you, to get back to the basics, and raise some respectful and loving kids. It is so hard for parents nowadays BUT it can be done IF they want to. There is no excuse for failure in a home. There are reasons; beyond our control for some stuff that is going on in a lot of homes; BUT the poor children are stuck in them and can't do anything. This is where we, AS TEACHERS can make a POSITIVE DIFFERENCE. :hugs:My heart goes out to them and I hope and pray that we all do our part to the BEST OF OUR ABILITY! They are with us during the most awakening and productive time of their lives. Make it worth their time and while, and yours too.
    Remember! These children can be our future team players & leaders.
    Now! BTTS! We are called by our first names at where I work at. It's all Ms. whatever your first name is, regardless if you are married or not. It was like that too in CA. These are pre-schools so I just go with the flow. It would be cool though to start having my class call me by my last name. Why not start a new thing"!?:D
    Rebel1
     
  32. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I'm not making a case for first or last names... I'm just in favor of the title.

    So Miss Jenn is fine. As is Mr. T. if they do last names and the last name is long or hard to pronounce.

    But "Hey, Mrs. A, how are you?" has a whole different tone from "Hey, Alice, how are you?"
     
  33. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Yes, I am not offended or bothered by Ms/Mr First Name, or even Ms/Mr First/Last Initial. I am a stickler when it comes to the titles, period. I would never go to my children's pediatrician and just call him Tom! He earned that Dr. title, just like adults earned theirs.:)
     
  34. Brendan

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    I'm Dr. R or Mr. R. to current students. Close former, students are usually allowed to call me Brendan.
     
  35. Proud2BATeacher

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    Welcome back JenPooh!:hugs:

    I'm presently teaching in a school where the students used to call us by our first names. This is my 4th year there but it is the first year that they have to call us by our last names or Ms. firstname. I have always hated being called by my first name. Call me old fashioned but I consider it showing a lack of respect. I found that a lot of the students tended to consider us their friends and thankfully parents started complaining about our using our first names.
     
  36. DHE

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    Once again, I have to agree with Alice. If you are using a first name, please have a title in front of it. Just as I expect my children's friends to call with a title with either first or last name. I have taught my children to do the same with my friends.
     
  37. YoungTeacherGuy

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    My kids know my first name. They think it's soooo cool because one of the students in our class has my same first name. Anyway, they always call me Mr. (Last Name). No exceptions.
     
  38. TeacherApr

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    I wholeheartedly respect your decisions with this issue! It is teaching them a matter of respect. For the P to be so nonchalant and to not think it's a big deal is disrespecting YOU as a parent!

    I don't mean to give unsolicited advice or anything but I am the type of person who would keep pushing the issue with the P which would result in me telling him/her "I am teaching my child RESPECT. He (or she) will be addressing his teachers by saying Mrs./Ms./Mr. __________." I would then let the teachers know of that. If they don't like it tough &^%*. I would hate to pull my child out of a program like this but if push came to shove and no one would be respecting this I would probably pull them out and file a formal complaint. but...that's me heh
     
  39. mmswm

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    Count me in the "title" camp. I would prefer last names, but so many people want first names, that Miss/Mr. Firstname is a compromise on my part.

    I have some amusing stories regarding names. When I was in undergrad, I had a TA for calculus. Years later, I wound up working with him. Calling him by his first name was quite a transition for me...a few years after that, we wound up dating, which would have been really weird if I hadn't gotten used to his first name.

    The only adult in my life I've ever heard called by something other than a title, by kids, is my mother...and only by young kids or her nieces/nephews. There's a reason for that. Her name is Alice. Kids call her Abby. Of course, Abby is not a standard diminutive of Alice. She was the oldest out of 6. One of her brothers, from a very young age, apparently didn't like her name, and started calling her Abby. Since that brother was so much younger than her, it wasn't long before the older kids had kids of their own. Abby became more of a title and less of a name. To this day, my mother will tell kids they can call her Mrs. Lastname, or Abby.
     
  40. Emily Bronte

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    I teach in a very small out of district special program where students address all staff including admins. by his/her first name. For us, it is a part of our culture and philosophy in our program. I know of staff who scratch out their last names on their id badges so that students specifically do not know their last names for searching for them online, etc. I have no real opinion either way. I do from time to time still run into my hs spanish teacher and still call her senora...
     
  41. JustMe

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    I think it's interesting—and I understand both camps—that one school may require titles and last names and another school may be opposed to that formality based on their own philosophy. It's clearly something that many educators and administrators have put a lot of thought into.

    I still call my colleagues Mrs./Mr. LastName with only a couple exceptions. Even though I consider a few friends, they're older than me so it just seems "right" to refer to them by their title and last name. Even when we email through Facebook I use the titles...I'm sure they think I'm super weird. :)
     
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