I used to teach in a Canadian college (tertiary) & all students & teachers called me “Elke”. In the past 4 years during all my practical experiences in Queensland High Schools I’ve had students call me “Mrs Schneider”. This is not surprising considering the traditional hierarchical aspects that still persist in the Qld Education system. I understand that when I teach at a school I also need to follow the school culture which of course includes this hierarchical and “respectful” naming convention. There was one particular private school that I went to that blasted a teenager publicly during an assembly because they had the audacity to call a teacher by her first name!
The thing is I don’t personally like being called Mrs Schneider! I have never liked the formality of it and it doesn’t fit with the student-centered teaching & learning culture that I believe in. I believe that creating/promoting a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom is important to allow for getting to know students thereby gathering knowledge about individuals to allow for situated practice. I lean towards the social equity possibilities that schools theoretically can achieve (we can only try!) and I guess it just doesn’t sit completely 100% right with me that I insist/expect that students call me Mrs Schneider. Or maybe I just don’t like that this has been expected of me and not something I am supposed to even challenge. I can’t help but wonder IF there would be a loss or gain or neither by having students address me by my first name – just like students do in Finland! I can’t help but wonder if this would be a small step towards avoiding the “banking system” that Paulo Freire warns against to overcome an oppressive society/education-system.
This is a minor thing and it won’t concern me too much either way when I start high school teaching. I do think it’s something to think about though. What do you think?