Addressing Teachers: 9 Things You Should Know

Addressing Teachers

With teachers being an integral part of the life of learners, parents, and even the community as a whole, it’s important to learn to relate with them.

This begins with properly addressing the teacher as that can either positively or negatively impact teacher-student or even teacher-parent relationships.

This article will try and answer any questions you may have about addressing teachers that won’t offend them unintentionally.

Why Do We Call Teachers By Their Last Name?

· Tradition

Tradition has played a key role in our lives and although advancements in our modern world have led to tremendous changes in certain aspects of our lives, some traditions haven’t been completely ignored.

Calling teachers by their last names shows respect and this has been the tradition in American public schools and in most schools across the world.

Educational institutions expect learners to address teachers with the appropriate honorific as a show of respect to the teacher.

This leads to an awkward situation when a student addresses a teacher by their first name.

· Regulations

Most educational institutions expect students to address teachers with the appropriate honorific but some go the distance by including this in their regulations.

Although some teachers may not mind being addressed by their first names, others may consider this a show of disrespect and in the worst-case scenario, can lead to disciplinary actions.

· Respect

Schools are training grounds for the younger generation in most cases and students are expected to at the very least receive some rudimentary training on communicating with superiors.

Mandating learners to call teachers by their last names enables learners to understand the difference in status between a teacher and a student and the relevance of an appropriate honorific.

· Official Title

There’s a reason why we don’t call our doctors by their first names when we go to the hospital and even when we do, it usually comes after the title of doctor.

It takes years of work to successfully acquire a doctorate in any field of study and the expectation is to have the honorific attached to their names in most environments.

Calling a professor, who spent years on research papers to climb the ranks even after their doctorate to finally be recognized a professor, anything other than their official title depicts a show of disrespect in most situations.

When Can Teachers Be Called By Their First Names?

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· School Culture

Educational institutions like most other organizations have their own culture. Students have to wear a specific uniform in some schools or at some levels of their training.

Both teachers and students are expected to follow some specified rules about their appearance including hair color, and even facial piercings.

Some institutions mandate students to call teachers by their first names. A typical instance was when I was undergoing a one-year entrepreneurship program.

The educational institution’s culture meant that learners could call teachers by their first names. Teachers in this instance had no problem with this especially since the students were all matured and already had their first degrees and masters in some cases.

Most of the teachers were within our age range with similar qualifications. The only real difference between us and the teachers was their level of experience in entrepreneurship.

In this case, the teachers were seen as friends and the relationships we built with them enabled us to easily approach them when we had questions.

This is simply my experience but there are other educational institutions as well that are flexible with how teachers should be addressed.

Is It Disrespectful To Call Teachers By Their First Name?

Yes. Although some modern teachers accept students addressing them by first names, most teachers still retain the old-school mentality, and addressing them by first names could in the worst-case scenario lead to some form of disciplinary action.

How To Find Out Your Teachers First Name

What is this teacher or my teacher’s first name? This is a common question as most teachers are simply called by their surnames.

In the case where you need their full names for a report, assignment, or something else, we’ll outline how you can find out the teacher’s first name or full name.

· Teacher’s Office

The first way is to visit their faculty building and then look for their office. Most institutions have the habit of placing the name of the teacher on the door to their office.

Simply visit the faculty and ask someone to direct you to the office of the teacher by them the teacher’s surname or the course they teach.

Once there, you’ll notice the full name of the teacher on the door to their office.

· Simply Ask Someone Else

Another option is to ask someone in your class or at the very least the teaching assistant if the teacher has one.

· Visit School Page

If your school has an online page, you can visit the page about their teachers. There you’ll find most of the school’s teachers accompanied by their images.

· Survey

This process might seem like overkill but it’s still a sure way to find out your teacher’s full name. Simply create some form of survey and present it to the teacher.

Ensure that their full name is the first question in the survey and mandatory as well.

Most teachers would agree to answer a few questions for a survey as they embark on these surveys quite often for some form of academic publication.

That said, it is necessary to only include a few relevant questions to not give away your intentions or lead to them denying to help if it’ll take too much of their time.

· Email

Find out the teacher’s email and try to send them an email over a simple yet insightful inquiry, possibly about a lesson or something you didn’t understand.

Most teachers use the school’s official email to communicate with their learners and these emails usually have their official email signature.

In most cases, you’ll even be able to identify the teacher’s full name from the email address even without sending an email.

If you’re also using the school’s official email, simply type the teacher’s email address, and their full name and email would pop up

How Will You Ask Your Teacher Their Name Indirectly?

In case you want to ask your teacher their name without going the simple way of directly asking “What is your name?”, you can try some of these approaches.

  • What is your first name

The classic approach still works. Most teachers are called by their last names in school. Knowing this, they won’t be offended and will most likely mention their first name as well as surname.

  • Social media

Ask whether they’re on social media and if they answer “Yes”, simply ask the name they use on that platform. Better yet you can open the app, hand them your phone and they’ll find their profile for you.

  • Where their name originates from

Another strategy is to ask where their name originates from.

  • Name or title

Ask whether they prefer that you use their name or simply their title.

How To Address A Teacher In An Email?

The best way to address your teacher in an email begins with the appropriate honorific followed by their surnames.

Although some teachers may be accepting of a semi-formal salutation, you should only take that risk once that particular teacher has given the go-ahead.

If the teacher is a professor or a doctor, it would be appropriate to use that honorific when addressing them in an email.

Becoming a professor takes years of research and publications, and the last thing most professors want is for someone to ignore their hard-earned titles.

How To Address Child’s Teacher In Email?

Teachers are professionals and an email to your child’s teacher needs to address them formally. You can address them by their full names not forgetting to include the appropriate honorific like a professor or Dr.

It’s a sign of respect and a good start to the content of your email. The teacher should only be addressed casually if you’ve been encouraged to do so by them.

Why Do Students Call Teachers Mom?

When teachers create a very welcoming environment for students, especially at the early childhood learning phase, students can sometimes develop some form of attachment to a teacher.

Moms are people we feel safe around and someone who shows similar love to a child can trigger an involuntary “Mom” from them.

If the teacher, in this case, doesn’t react negatively, the student may repeat this in similar circumstances.

Habit also plays a key role as children spend most of their time outside of school with their moms and dads.

Parents play with their children and do anything to make them laugh. It’s easy for kids to confuse someone who plays with them that same way and can sometimes involuntarily call them “Mom”.

Older students on the other hand may sometimes call a teacher “Mom” as a form of nickname or simply because they share a name with their parent.

How Often Do Teachers Get Called Mom?

Although not often in most instances, teachers, especially those at the early childhood level are sometimes accidentally or intentionally called “Mom”.

However, in some cases, the name can stick to the teacher when other students start repeating the name.

This is especially true when you happen to have your own child in the class who calls you mom often. Unfortunately, it becomes difficult to tell your baby not to call you “Mom” in school when they’re at the early childhood level.

Other children simply consider this your name and also begin to call you “Mom”.

Akshay Vikhe

I am an aspiring Data Scientist with a huge interest in technology. I like to review courses that are genuine and add real value to student’s careers. Read my story

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