Have a PhD, but students refuse to call me Dr. even when I tell them to do so

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Jerry Dill, Apr 27, 2017.

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  1. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    I finished my PhD in the last year, and I have instructed students to call me "Dr. Dill" But there are a couple of students who refuse to use my title even after I asked them directly to use the title. (There are also some downright confused students, but this posting is not about the confused students).

    One 10th grader told me that doctors were only medical doctors, so she didn't see my PhD as a real doctorate.

    The other is a very smart 12th grader, who is also being very stubborn. I used my title in several corrections on her formatting of Google Documents, and I use my title in signing emails to her. And I pointed out to her that she didn't accept the revision I made to my title, but she had accepted almost all the other revisions I made to her document. She just "rejected" the suggestion I made to change my title from "Ms." to "Dr." on her Google document. Since she is doing this consciously and intentionally, I have told her she can explain to me her reason for rejecting the change, but that in she doesn't give me a reason with merit then I am going to have her talk with the headmaster.

    Any thoughts on this refusal to use a title of authority? Is this due to my gender? Anyone else seen or experienced this? Is this Oppositional Defiance Disorder in the students?
     
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  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I work with multiple people who could use "doctor", but they don't. You are proud of your accomplishment, but others may not be as impressed, therefore refuse to use your new title. Unless you are terribly insecure, why does it matter to you? No, this is not ODD. I was once told that respect is something you earn every day, not a given. Perhaps, with these students, you just haven't earned their respect. ODD would be about SO much more than your new title.
     
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  4. rpan

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    You have shown your hand by letting the students know that this is a button for you and if students know what your buttons are, they are going to want to press those buttons all the time. In the grand scheme of things, this is personally not a battle I would pick. I'd rather they show positive attitude in their conduct and in their work - that's the battle I'd pick. But that's just me.

    In students' mind, you having the Dr in front of your name doesn't really impact them in any tangible way - it probably won't make you a better or worse teacher, or lessen or increase their workload, or change what they need to do to graduate etc.

    Perhaps once the 'confused' students figure it out and call you by your title, then everyone in the class will conform.
     
  5. Mr.history

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    I feel like there are bigger hills to die on than this one. The damage your doing to your reputation with these students by making a big deal out of this is most likely not worth it in the long run. (maybe it is to you...)
     
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  6. Obadiah

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    Hmm...I agree the students need to learn about the PhD system. I still remember a high school lesson (I can't remember why) in which the BA/MA/PhD degrees were explained. Personally, I think I'd approach this with a sense of humor. I've heard teachers called much worse things! But I do agree that it is proper to inform students of a preference for one's name, as this corresponds to asking the students how they prefer to be addressed; that's part of the learning experience too.

    This is just me, as I tend to enjoy a bit of wackiness with my classroom at times, but I'd probably look up the cartoon of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd singing "What's Up Doc?" There's also another song that was on a children's 45 RPM about this phrase; perhaps it can be Googled. Bugs sings, (I can't remember all the words--we're talking 1960's here)
    If your mother has been baking
    And you don't know what she's making
    Cause she popped it in the oven right away.
    If you wanna look in,
    Never say, "What's cookin'?"
    Just say, "Ah, what's up doc?"
    (Then another singer joins in)
    Singer: Don't have to tell you who that is.
    Bugs: Ah, can't you guess?
    Singer: I'm sure you already know.
    Bugs: It's me.
    Singer: That's Bugs Bunny, and that's his way of saying hello.
    Now I'm about to give some good advice for free.
    You can say, "What's up doc?" as easily as he.

    Then the song goes on with Mel Blanc's other Warner Brothers characterizations. I also heard on the radio on a program that plays old-timey stuff a recording of Mel Blanc doing stand up comedy and using the same voices he used in the cartoons. That might even be a fun non-academic break to listen to.

    A humorous story you reminded me of, I can't recall how we got into this discussion in 3rd grade, I think it was the beginning of the year and I was introducing myself. Anyway, for some reason, I punned, "I don't care what you call me, as long as you don't call me late for dinner." Of course, third graders are very literal minded, and one student then asked, "Why would we call you Mr. Late-for-Dinner?"
     
  7. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    LOL I've used that one myself! I'm glad I'm not the only one.
     
  8. CherryOak

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    Congrats on the PhD! I don't have a PhD. But, I'm married to one and recognize the HARD work it takes to achieve. I worked for years in higher ed where they were more common than not. I will tell you the same thing I told my husband and he would agree....no one likes those who insist on being called Dr. It will unfortunately come across elitist evey time. It's not a nice thing for me to say, but I do mean it in honest kindness. These kids are just still honest enough to challenge you on it. The best leaders are humble. Please don't let it get to you. Be happy if they're using your real name vs. the horrible nicknames they inevitably have for us all. You are showing a weakness/button if they realize it ticks you off. They'll jump on that and run with it. Don't hand them that power.
     
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  9. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    I don't think it's elitist at all and I think it's anti-intellectual and unrealistic to look at this as elitist. It's a form of training, and there are many titles for many positions. If you don't address a Judge as Judge in the courtroom, you are seen as "in contempt." If you don't address a politician by his official designation--Secretary of State or Madam Secretary or President--you can be kicked out or dealt with in a less friendly fashion. At hospitals there are strict rules about who can be called Dr. and who cannot. There are people who pretend to have JD or MD credentials they do not really have, and as a result they get fined for fraud and impersonation, and they are sometimes jailed. Women who are married will choose to go by Mrs or Ms. It's their preference.

    Getting a title is just a title that reflects hard work involved, and it is the precise title that person has at that point. It's my preference to use my title and all of my college professors used their titles, so why should I feel like I cannot because some people refuse to acknowledge this particular title? This girl doesn't have problems call Mrs. L by her title. So if she can acknowledge one title why can't she acknowledge my title?
     
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  10. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    I don't think I will do damage to my reputation. This girl already refused to make revisions to her paper, so I picked that fight with her. And she refuses to work in groups. And she is going to a lower ranked college because the better college she was admitted to requires that fresh persons have roommates, and she says she "has a condition" where she cannot have a roommate. I didn't pick that fight because if she wants to go to a worse college to avoid having a roommate that is her choice. But using the title is appropriate in many places: we have married women at my work and she uses their titles, so why can't she use my title?

    I am not afraid of getting the point across to this girl that (1) yes, she has to do the revisions (2) yes, she has to work in groups (3) yes, my title like the titles of other teachers must be used. I see no damage done to my reputation by standing by these points.
     
  11. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    All of the PhD and MD holders that I know do use their titles. When I was in graduate school, even though I was an in my 30s, I addressed all of my teachers as Dr. or Professor. And this is what all of my fellow students who were in their 20s-60s also did. It's (1) accurate (2) polite (3) the norm. This girl is much younger than I am, and I have definitely done what is necessary to earn their respect. If this girl herself doesn't respect me that reflects on her not on me. She also refused to do a significant revision, and she refused to work in a group, and there are other things. Perhaps you do not see that it can be the student who has difficulties in giving respect and not the teacher who has difficulties with earning respect, but that is the case here.

    It's not all of my students, but, as I said, two of my students who are doing this. Many of my students call me Dr. just like I call them by the names they prefer. Of course, it matters to me. There are titles throughout life and part of life is knowing what a title means and how to use a title. People who are married like that to be recognized often so they use "Mrs." I don't refuse to acknowledge their accomplishment. People who are judges want to be addressed as Judge, and a person can be thrown into jail for contempt if they do not use Judge in the courtroom. There are many government officials who have titles, and there are royalties who have titles. I call my MD as "Doctor" even though we are peers and about the same ages. The bigger question is why do people refuse to accept the reality of the use of titles and sometimes even commit professional fraud by faking titles they don't really have? I think it's just part of the real world to use and accept the use of titles.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    What it comes down to is this: you can't control what other people do and don't do. Focus on the stuff that you can control, and let go of the things you can't.
     
  13. Linguist92021

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    I have a few thoughts on this, some of these might have been pointed out.
    1. high school students might not understand that you can have the DR. title and not be an actual doctor. You can fix this, educate them. It can be a simple conversation, or you might be able to fit it in a lesson, depending on what you teach.
    2. some high school students will always find a way to get to you and if you showed them that this frustrates you, they will use it
    3. if you have introduced yourself as Mr. Dill in the beginning of the year and now you want to switch to Dr. Dill, I can see that a lot of them might just not be used to it, forget it or feel that it's strange.
    Next year, when you start off as Dr. Dill, I bet you will have a lot more addressing you properly.
    4. I never liked the saying "respect is not given, it's earned", because I was raised to automatically respect the elderly, authority figures, etc. However in this case, I think respect plays a part. Maybe they don't all respect you or respect you enough, or you don't have a good enough rapport with them.
    5. You can maybe let go fighting the battle of how they call you, but if you require them to turn in any papers with your name on it (like it is done in college), make sure they now it better be addressed properly, otherwise they loose significant points, or the paper won't be accepted, etc.
     
  14. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    I say why pick the battle this close to the end of the school year? What is it, like 3 weeks or so left? Why not start fresh next year, with new students, and introduce yourself as Dr. Bill.
     
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  15. Peregrin5

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    This is probably not a battle you want to fight. There are also teachers at my school with PhDs, and people who really respect them refer to them as Dr. but they don't get bent out of shape if they're called Mrs.

    I think this is preferable to being that person that forces everyone to call you Dr. Part of it is that for HS students, they are simply used to always referring to their teachers as Mr. or Mrs. I know when I went to college, it took me a while to break the habit of calling someone Mr. when their title was "Dr.". (I'm still more comfortable with calling them 'Professor')
     
  16. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Sorry - I thought you were teaching high school, not college. At the HS level, there has been much less exposure to titles. Your post sounds as if you changed your preference of title mid-year, which most students resist. My husband is a veterinarian, and he does not ask people to call him doctor, our judge clients don't ask to be called judge, and most women teachers are content with the ubiquitus "Ms". I teach in a small high school and 5 staff members could pull out the trump card and refer to themselves as "Dr.", but feel it doesn't serve a purpose in this setting. I'm not going to reply to your last two sentences since I feel you have gone way off topic. If you want to fight this fight, you better get your admin behind you, and let them fight your battle, because you have given away your power on this issue to any student who has observed how much this gets under your skin. I respect your work, but don't think your take on titles is the same as many others, IMHO.
     
  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I also feel like I have to add this:

    How crazy is it that the thing that's most upsetting here is that students don't call the teacher "Doctor"? I've been called a lot worse than not doctor.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Take points off the assignment for the incorrect header (every time) and move on.
     
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  19. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I guess that just isn't something I would stress over. I'm assuming you chose to get the degree to better yourself, not so that you could make people call you "Dr.".
     
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  20. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    If this is your WORST problem consider yourself lucky! Seriously. I think if you want to be called "Dr." go teach at a college, but I'm in grad school and our professors don't even care. They're like you can call me "Mr., Dr., or by my first name." I definitely wouldn't drag this issue out any more. You can continue to have "Dr." in all correspondence and in your classroom, but yeah.
    :2cents:
     
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  21. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    Problem solved. In this situation, I have all (or almost all) of the power and the student does not have power. The headmaster told the student she was being rude and she should call me Dr. If she does not I am supposed to inform the headmaster, and we will deal with that situation.

    With all due respect to the posters, this is a legally validated and institutionally given title. Students need to realize that marriage, doctorates, judgeships, presidencies are legally given titles and to ignore these titles is also to ignore the legal and institutional processes behind them. Getting rid of a "Mrs" title requires a lot of legal paperwork and money, so I don't think a student should just ignore the laws and procedures that underpin the awarding and dissolution of these titles as if they were merely subjective wishes. I wish myself to be married, therefore call me "Mrs"! The students who do not use titles correctly do not fully understand legal or institutional rules and processes and they need to figure those rules and processes out. I am making objective corrections about facts. A married woman is a fact. An awarded PhD is a fact.
     
  22. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Admin backed you up, so yeah, Jerry. Good luck with your new title and attitude.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
  23. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    Your doctoral institution was far different from my own. Mine was in New York--a liberal state--but students were expected to call all professors Dr. or Professor. So what is hard about doing this? I have no problem calling married women Mrs. Nor do I have trouble calling people with PhDs and MDs "doctors." The refusal to use titles seems like a refusal to recognize reality which has legal and institutional realities not personal wishes.
     
  24. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    I'm single and a Dr. That is my point. I am not married, but I recognize other women who care about being married by calling them "Mrs." I recognize their accomplishment as they see their marriage. I recognize hierarchies and have no problem not being the smartest or the most powerful person in the room, so I recognize a Judge, a President, a Secretary of State has a title and has more power than I do. Who cares? I have the power I have, and I am perfectly happy with that amount of responsibility and power. I do not deny other people their authority or their accomplishments, and I expect the same from other people towards me.

    If I thought another woman's marriage was "fake" or "not a good marriage" I wouldn't call her "Miss" since that would be a denial of the legal reality that she is "Mrs." If she is married legally, then she can go by "Mrs" and my feelings about her marriage are purely subjective. The student's feelings towards my accomplishments are purely subjective since the institutional authority of my graduate school decided to give me a PhD. Case closed.
     
  25. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Sorry, but I still feel you are making mountains out of molehills, but it is your life.
     
  26. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    As a kid, I never knew that Ph.D. holding people were called Dr. Nor was I privy to the education of my teachers. Furthermore, I don't think kids, even high schoolers, know all the "laws and procedures" or are trying to "underpin the awarding" of the title. They're the ones in school learning, you are the teacher. Show them that by actually having a person-to-person discussion about it instead of an adversarial relationship around it.

    Or it's something that isn't familiar to them. I mean, yes, they could be purposefully choosing not to do it...but honestly, that's a behavior choice that seems to need to be addressed outside of just this one issue...and if it is a behavior choice, I wouldn't be surprised if it was due to the seemingly adversarial attitude.

    Full respect to you for your accomplishments, but really, they're just high schoolers. Teach them in a positive way, not in a dictatorship fashion. Right now the title of "Oppositional Defiance Disorder" seems to be more coming from you as opposed to them.
     
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  27. TeacherNY

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    If it bothers you this much then go find a job at a college where it will be easier to get students to call you what you want.
     
  28. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    I think he is working at a college?
     
  29. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    His prior posts have indicated he teaches at a private high school. I believe he may also be looking for a different job, with more like minded coworkers, according to other threads he has started. I could, of course, be wrong.
     
  30. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Don't use others to justify your position. My mom is a mayor of a city of over 100,000 people and has never once insisted that anyone call her by any title. We have a teacher at our school with her doctorate to doesn't even tell her students. People calling them a different title doesn't erase their accomplishments.
     
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  31. Backroads

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    Musings:

    I get it. You did the work, you earned the title.

    When my brother was in elementary school, his teacher had his doctorate. He thought it was ridiculous to call him doctor.

    I attended an LDS university. Heck, we called all our professors "Brother" or "Sister", accordance with religious custom.
     
  32. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nah, the original post references 10th and 12th graders.
     
  33. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This post is making me side-eye all your other posts, OP. I'm starting to wonder if all the other problems you've been facing at your school might not be entirely the fault of everyone else...

    [​IMG]
     
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  34. GTB4GT

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    I find this thread to extremely interesting. Maybe it is a function of my age, but I find it very telling that most find it OK for the student to blatantly refuse what to me is a very simple request. Who cares why the OP wants to be addressed in that manner? Or if you or I wouldn't necessarily want to be called Dr. if we had earned the a PhD. I think a teacher or any authority figure has the right to request (within reason) how they liked to be addressed.And how they want their classroom to run. If a student has an issue with compliance with a simple rule, where and when does it stop? Who gets to decide what is OK? The teacher or the student?

    It's obvious that I am in the minority here. And not necessarily saying it is an issue that I would necessarily fight in my classroom. but I do respect the OP's right to make the request. And I cannot justify a student making a mountain out of a molehill. It's the student's problem, not the teacher's. What does a student like this do in the workplace when facing a similar issue of following a simple rule?
     
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  35. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I'm not sure that we're (or I am) actually in disagreement with you, even though it may have come off that way. I think my point was more that it seems like a behavior / following authority issue and not so much a "I don't want to honor you in that way" issue. And secondly, I think my point was more that helping students better understand why that decision is being made might also lead to a more understanding following of that authority. My students are fourth graders, and I often do my best to explain to them the reasoning behind seemingly "random rules" that they have to follow...and it results in a classroom where I have 100% respect around the decisions I make or ask them to follow.

    And in regards to student vs. teacher problem, I think we're all implying that it isn't solely a teacher problem within this moment...but it seems to be hinting towards a more systemic behavior management issue as a teacher.
     
  36. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that it's fair to ask to be called whatever you like to be called. I also think that it's fair to correct someone once when they've called you by the wrong title. After that point, though, I think that you need to give it up and move on. The student is clearly digging in her heels, which is crappy and unfortunate. The thing is that no one can force a student to call this teacher by the teacher's preferred name. By the teacher holding onto that and making it such a big issue, the focus has switched away from learning and toward this schism of personalities. Is that the goal? Doubtful.
     
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  37. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Just FYI: I go to school in NY.
     
  38. mathteachertobe

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    I guess my issue is the sense I have that the OP is trying to establish hierarchical dominance in a system that already confers to them a great deal of power. I sense there is some insecurity at work here. No one at the colleges/universities I attended or worked at wanted or required students use a title when addressing them. This included several Nobel Prize winners.
     
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  39. MrTempest

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    I this does not ruffle any feathers, but I do not believe those with EdDs, or "Doctorate of Education" are real "Doctors." However, those with MDs and PhDs are cool.
     
  40. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Closing this since Dr. Dill solved the problem.
     
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