What’s In A Name?


Ms Murray.

Over the past four and a half years I’ve been teaching and the previous two plus years doing informal education I’ve been called both of the above names. I didn’t ever really have a choice in what I wanted to be called. The culture of the job/school somewhat dictated that for me. In my informal ed jobs, everyone went by their first name. In all of the school’s I’ve worked at the customary thing was to go by last names.

The school where I teach this year is the only place where I’ve had to make a choice. I decided to go by my first name. With few exceptions, all of my students call me Bree. And I like it that way.

From time to time I’ve thought about the subtle heirarchy that gets put in place when teachers are addressed by last names (Mr, Ms) and students are called by their first names. The way I would sometimes react to this was, after a student called me Ms Murray, I would respond using the student’s last name. “Yes, Mr So-and-so?”

I’m not arguing that we should do away with the whole last names thing. It is a sign of respect in a lot of communities. But I do appreciate that I had the choice at this school, and I think it would be nice to have that choice more widespread. I wonder if I would have made the same choice in some of the other schools that I’ve worked at, or if I would have chosen to go by Ms Murray. 

Anyone else teach at a crazy-weird school where students call teachers (well, some of them at least) by their first names?

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