A Naming Problem

I may or may not have any control over this, but I’m debating what I should have my students call me.  In college, I insisted on first names, though a lot of students went with Professor Blankenship.  But I will be putting my name on my web site and in other places, so I could kick start a trend.  I’m putting it to you guys.  What do you think is a good starting name?

What should my students call me?
Dr. B
Ms. B
Ms Blankenship
Dr. Blankenship
Yo, Teach!
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8 Replies to “A Naming Problem”

  1. I haven’t voted b/c my answer is somewhat contextual: I think your students should call you something like what they are generally expected to call other teachers. When I first started teaching, I often asked students to call me by my first name (thinking that it was a way to decenter the classroom and redistribute power), but as I have gotten more experience, I have actually ended up telling my students to call me Dr. H or Professor H. (depending on the institution’s norms). I’m still committed to a decentered classroom, but I think that it’s easier to direct a decentered classroom when I’m clear about the power and authority that I have (which has some connection to the Professor/Doctor title). My partner has students call her Dr. FirstInitialofLastName, which manages to balance a playfulness and authority all at once.

    The issue of naming is enormously complicated!

  2. Most of the students I’ve met have called their teachers Ms. or Mr. LastName. I heard a couple calling a teacher with a doctorate Dr. FirstInitial, which is where I got the idea myself. But yes, it is complicated! 🙂

  3. I think Dr. Last Name is fine – or Doctor Last Initial if you think its too long (I went to an elementary school with a lot of really long last names so we had Mr. B, Mrs. G, etc – but I also had a fifth grade teacher who was Dr. Last Name – we had no problems with it – it was our DARE officer who couldn’t ever remember that the woman had a doctorate (we all corrected him for her, lol – we were proud of the fact that we had the only “Dr.” in the school!)

  4. I called every one of my professors in college Professor (Insert Last Name Here). Some of them were PhD holders and some weren’t but since our relationship was Professor/Student I felt like it was the best fit. I doubt any of them were offended but if they were they need to lighten up.

    Later on I worked with other PhD holders when I was doing archaeology. Since we were collegues I called them Dr. unless they insisted on first names.

    I’m not a big fan of the Dr.B or Ms.B. A bit to ‘Saved By The Bell’ for my tastes.

  5. I think the initial thing is useful if you have a long last name. Otherwise names get shortened in other (potentially annoying) ways.

    Re the Dr., my opinion would be that it’s appropriate to use it in this context, because it is relevant. I don’t (and think it’s inappropriate) to introduce myself as Dr. at my kids’ school, ’cause it’s not relevant (I’d actually do it differently if I were an MD, ’cause I think being an MD might actually be relevant).

    But, I’d hesitate before using the Dr. at the school until you’re sure that the culture of the school won’t see that as inappropriate on your part. Some schools might like it (especially private ones), where Dr’s on the faculty are a recruiting plus. Others might see it inappropriate discrimination among teachers.

  6. PPS: I’m pretty excited about your new endeavor and look forward to hearing about it! I hope you end up having the time to keep us in the loop through the blog.

  7. There are quite a few Dr.’s at the school, and as parents, we get addressed by the staff in formal situations by Dr. First names in informal situations, of course. So far, Dr. something is winning out. I’m inclined to go with the full last time with the invitation to shorten to an initial.

    And yes, bj, I’ll be keeping you up to date. I have a post brewing just about the prep I’ve been doing lately.

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