Would You Call a Teacher By Her First Name?

BlogHer Original Post

When I was a teacher, my students called me by my first name. There were a few teachers at the school who asked to be addressed by their last name, but it was far more common for students to use our first names. I entered this school from a conservative all-girls school, where I was scolded by the principal for asking the girls to use my first name, and the students themselves didn't know what to make of a teacher who asked to simply be called Melissa. Prior to that job, I was teaching at the university level, where my students, once again, called me by my first name at my request.

conceptual business shot of a female in a grey suit with a blank name tag

My philosophy has always been that it shows more respect and intimacy to use a first name. (After all, you don't call your siblings "sister" or "brother" -- holding them at arm's length with a title.) I want my students to see me as an equal partner in their education, guiding them towards knowledge where it's their job to pick it up.

It's funny, but whenever this topic comes up, people have strong opinions (and I hope you do too!) on the right way we should address people in certain professions -- most notably teachers, since it differs from school to school, person to person.

Do you think students should call teachers by their first name? A combination of title and first name? Only a title and last name?

What did you call your teachers back when you were a student and what do you wish you could have called them insofar as name?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her book is Navigating the Land of If.


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