I’ve changed my position on students calling teachers by their first names.
During my first placement was at an intermediate school where I went by Ms Lastname and was reasonably convinced that this was the way to go. I didn’t particularly want to be on a first name basis with my students due to always having to be ‘on’ as a teacher. For this placement I am with year 1/2 class at a school where everyone in the school is on a first name basis with their students and having now experienced the practice of being called Stephanie, I kind of like it.
I thought it might be weird, and it was for the first hour or so, but after that I quickly got used to it because it was simply the culture of the school. In fact the rooms in the school aren’t numbered at all but rather referred to by the teacher’s name classroom. So if I was teaching at my placement for real I wouldn’t be teaching in room 3, it would be Stephanie’s classroom. This sounds a bit egotistical at first glance but the practice seems a lot more warm and welcoming than an impersonal numbered space.
I don’t think the issue of students respecting teachers is a major one. I haven’t noticed any difference in students respecting teachers at my current placement then there was at my last placement. But I discovered that alongside not feeling so detached from my students another unintended benefit when a student talks about another teacher I no longer have to think about who Mr/Mrs Lastname is because I automatically know the teacher’s name. I also like that when I bump into my students outside of school (I live within easy walking distance) the students call me Stephanie as the alternative seems so contrived once you are out of the classroom. So why do most teachers insist on keeping up the practice inside the classroom?
The issue of teacher names isn’t something that I would go to the matresses over. However if I was given the choice, I think I would opt to be on a first name basis with my students. Nevertheless I can’t help but think that school culture might play a role in my decision as perhaps the reason I enjoy students calling me by my first name is because they call everyone by their first name.