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How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

  • 1.  How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-23-2021 09:16 PM
    I've heard a few arguments from either "side" of this topic but am curious to hear updated discussions... Here is the topic for conversation: Should preschool teachers be addressed by their First names or their Last names? Specifically, should teachers be referred to as Ms/Mr/Mrs Sam or Mr/Mrs/Ms Smith in preschool? Also as an extension to this discussion, what are the non-binary/most appropriate options? Again, this is specific to preschool, but I look forward to all conversation.

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    Sarah Pyle-Shackelford
    Georgetown TX
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  • 2.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-24-2021 09:15 AM
    My thought is that a preschool  teacher we should be address by our last name. Ex. Mrs. Ingram
    It will prepare the students for the next grade level. In our school district the student still address the teachers by their last name.

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    Patricia Ingram
    Director
    Ms Patty Cakes Group Day Care Home
    Harrisburg IL
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  • 3.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-25-2021 10:53 AM
    I believe that non-binary individuals have embraced Mx as their honorific.
    Here is a story from NBC: https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/ms-mr-or-mx-nonbinary-teachers-embrace-gender-neutral-honorific-n960456

    Hopefully someone has the most up to date if this is not.
    Katie


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    Katie Roberts
    Education Director
    Wisconsin Technical College System office
    Stoughton WI
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  • 4.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-26-2021 10:05 AM
    We have a new weekly activity at my school, "Mx. Morgan's School of Manners" - a short, teacher-presented puppet show in which the characters work on a Social-Emotional issue. We don't actually mention the non-binary element, or at least we haven't yet, but it seemed like a good place to position inclusion and respect for all community members.

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    Jeanne deMarrais
    The Mulberry Tree
    Santa Monica CA
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  • 5.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-27-2021 09:49 AM
    Jeanne deMarrais:

    I love this!!  Thank you for posting it and thanks to the original poster for including non-binary teachers in the presenting question.


    Jeanne deMarrais wrote:
    We have a new weekly activity at my school, "Mx. Morgan's School of Manners" - a short, teacher-presented puppet show in which the characters work on a Social-Emotional issue. We don't actually mention the non-binary element, or at least we haven't yet, but it seemed like a good place to position inclusion and respect for all community members.

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    Aren Stone
    she/her/hers
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
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  • 6.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-25-2021 11:57 AM
    I believe that how teachers are addressed should be determined by the culture of the school.  If a pre-k is a part of a larger school that has a culture of using formal language to address teachers then that language should extend to the pre-school.  If the school culture is that each teacher selects their own name to be refered as then it is the teacher's choice, and if a school culture is to use the less formal of Title first name or just first name then that is what the pre-k teachers should use.  I don't believe there is a right or wrong answer to this.

    As to the idea of preparing teachers for the next grade, children will be flexible and adjust to what they are expected to do.  My personal example was that my children attended school where friends of our family taught.  At home they called these adults by their first name and had since they started talking.  They adjusted just fine when they started school and had to switch to calling them Title last name (although they did occasionally mess up and would acknowledge their mistake and restate the adult's name accordingly).

    As to what to use as the title in a non-binary gender situation, I think that if formal titles are used then the staff member who is non-binary should have the right to determine which title they are most comfortable with.  There is a current option for formal titles that some people may use to be non gender specific and it is:  Mx (usually pronounced /məks/ MəKS, /mɪks/ MIKS or /mʌks/ MUKS and sometimes /ɛmˈɛks/ em-EKS).



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    Laura Pearce
    EHS Child Development Specialist
    Maryland Family Network
    Baltimore MD
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  • 7.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-25-2021 09:32 AM
    I believe they should be addressed by last names.  I prefer Ms. Sanday (or Miss because it's easier for the children to say). I feel it teaches respect.

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    Katherine Sanday
    Director
    The Wilderness Academy
    North Branch MI
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  • 8.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-25-2021 11:55 AM

    I have taught elementary students who referred to me as 'Ms. Allen' and currently teach PreK where I am called 'Ms. Jess'. The difference between the two titles relies on the boundary relationship between teacher and student. Older students are more independent, mature, and  have a better understanding of boundary's and different kinds of relationships. Therefore, they can have a more professional relationship with the teacher. Younger students however rely on the comfort and close relationship with the teacher to feel secure in their environment. Early Learning teachers are also caregivers, they change diapers, give bottles, provided comfort and security, which requires a more personal relationship rather than professional. I still have young students call me 'Ms.' to help them begin to learn the boundary between teacher student, as well as teach then the social skill of addressing adults in amore polite manor.  



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    Jessica Allen
    Educational Director/ Preschool Teacher
    Bright Beginnings Academy
    Michigan City, IN
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  • 9.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-28-2021 02:12 PM
    Jessica,
    You expressed my opinion on this topic ideally!  I know of a professor at a nearby university who teaches on all topics Early Childhood, and also spends some time in the preschool class supported by the university. She believes everyone is equal, and no one is to be considered above another, so she prefers the children call her by her first name. I have no strong feelings about this and respect her preference, but personally, I do not feel this prepares children for real life.  When they enter school as a kindergartener, most children will be expected to address their teachers by a title, and this will typically continue all through through high school. When I worked on my degree in college, I had teachers who encouraged students to address them by their first names, but many preferred to be called "Dr. (fill in the bank)."  They earned the title, and I was happy to use it. I have, for my entire adult life (and I am 61 years old) referred to my employer by using a title as well. Often, in our more relaxed times, titles are still expected as a form of respect. If for no other reason, in preschool, it is helpful for children to quickly differentiate among the people in their classroom and to look to the adult facilitators as the designated authority when safety decisions are necessary. At our center, we typically are address as Ms. Jennifer, etc. - the title is a simple form of respect, and the first name is a friendly representative of the priority of relationship building in early childhood settings.
    Jennifer Andrews

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    Jennifer Andrews
    Director
    The Potters House CDC
    Liberty Twp OH
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  • 10.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-26-2021 12:58 AM
    We just go by Ms. -- first name (Ms. Lindsay). When my mom comes to give a hand the kids call her "gramma." The kids are boys and girls.

    When I was in the school system, high school, Ms. -- Last Name. If a student asked that I call them a name different than that in the "system" I called that student by the name they requested and I used the pro-nouns that coincide, per their request.

    I'm aware that where language is controlled, the outcome of conversation is controlled, which I find very dangerous if we follow the possibility of that fact to conclusion.

    But where kids have been concerned I didn't rock the boat, inasmuch where names are concerned.

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    Lindsay
    Billings, MT
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  • 11.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-27-2021 11:35 AM
    My children attended a cooperative nursery school and where I later became the Director. The school had a very strong culture of equity and equality. The prior Director was a Quaker and brought to the school many of their principles. In our cooperative, the teachers and parent helpers were addressed by their first names. One year, when I was the Director, we hired a woman who grew up in Britain. She wanted to be called Miss Ruth. There was much discussion about that change in our culture in terms of how we address each other and how the children address their teachers. In the end, the parents accepted that change.

    In my experience, respect at any age is earned. Just using surnames will not teach children of any age to respect you, each other, or other adults. Respect comes from modeling behaviors that show you truly care about the child and listen to what they have to say. It is important to model what you believe is respectful behavior.

    If you were brought up to believe that using surnames is important to your group's culture, you will do that but that will not guarantee the development of respect in children.

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 12.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-28-2021 08:48 AM
    I have worked both in centers where children called the teachers by "Miss- and their first name" and by their first name only- even when I was the director of this center, the children called me only by my first name.  I did not feel less respected because the children used only my first name.  We felt it created community and mutual respect for the adults and children to use each others first names.  The children still understood that the adults were there to help them, to be respected, and were the authority figures.  Respect is more than whether children call you by your first name or if they put a Miss in front of it.  It's how we are teaching them to interact and treat each other.  Calling me Miss Lori doesn't make children automatically listen to me, or respect me- it's how I have treated them, what expectations I have given them, how I have created community in my classroom that truly matters.

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    Lori O'Hara
    Education Coordinator
    Lancaster-Fairfield Community Action Early Head Start
    Lancaster OH
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  • 13.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 06-28-2021 05:29 PM
    RE:How Should Teachers Be Addressed

    Hello Everyone!
    I am usually addressed by students as Ms. Millie my first name. I have always felt that being addressed by my first name gives the children a sense of comfort and bonding.
    The children know that you are the facilitator in their learning. It bonds us all as a community when children feel at ease when calling you by your first name. Building a holistic approach to the environment. Expanding  confidence in their unity of learners. All educators have many methods in guiding their students not one shoes fits everyone. However, showing the children we guide that we are open -minded in learning with them and respecting them as active learners regardless if it's Mrs.,Mr. & Ms. She/He. The world is changing this is the beauty of teaching.

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    Milagros Neu
    Pre-K -K Teacher
    Learning Pods
    Maplewood NJ
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  • 14.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 25 days ago
    There are no wrong answers to this question. It depends entirely on the culture of the setting. That's what needs to be respected - the local, geographic culture as well as the culture within which the program resides. I've been called, Loraine, Miss Loraine, and Miss Dunn depending on where I worked. (I only heard Dr. Dunn from college students, not the children they were working with!) I was called Miss Loraine both when I worked in Mississippi and in a program serving families in poverty in Illionois. I was Loraine in child development laboratories in Iowa and Indiana. I've observed teachers in religious programs called by their last name's in Oklahoma. So the short answer is, "it depends."

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    Loraine Dunn
    Provider
    Only Toddlers
    Norman OK
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  • 15.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 24 days ago
    I think as Ms Or Mr first name and in turn address the children in that manner and they get used to hearing Ms or Mr





  • 16.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 22 days ago
    I agree. As long as they put a handle by the name meaning call me Ms. Pat not Pat. I come from a family where kids must show respect to adults at all times, in my opinion. 





  • 17.  RE: How should teachers be addressed by our preschool students?

    Posted 23 days ago
    I use this exact discussion when I am teaching about DAP Core Consideration for Decision Making #3 about the cultural context of the children, adults, and program.

    Each of us as adults in early childhood education settings​ have culturally-based ideas about what is appropriate or inappropriate for how children should or should not address adults (anytime you are in the realm of  "shoulds," you are in the realm of cultural beliefs and identities). Children come from home cultures with some sort of expectations about how children should address and interact with adults. As previously mentioned in this thread, there are also cultural considerations (shoulds and shouldn'ts) of the program itself (e.g., if the program is in a religious setting or if the program is part of a larger school which has clearly identified cultural expectations for how children should address adults, the way children address adults may already be culturally determined by the program).

    To recognize the effects of our own cultural in this situation, we need to reflect on what impact it has on us when a child addresses us in a way that may be incongruent with our own cultural expectations. I have seen teachers get very frustrated if they are addressed by a child using their first name, and I have seen teachers who are uncomfortable with being addressed by children in more formal ways). Recognizing and honoring the child's cultural behavior in the situation is important in developing a positive relationship with the child.

    As you, your teaching team, and the children come together to create a shared classroom culture (shouldn'ts and shoulds) around routines, rolls, and expectations, you can have the discussions about how children and adults should address each other to create the classroom culture. Keep in mind, though, that the level of hierarchy or egalitarian communication established by the classroom culture can have an impact on how children engage with you in learning experiences. Hierarchical relationships in which children are expected to address adults in very formal ways can create a communication "distance" in which children may be less likely to fully engage in learning conversations with you because of the formality. More egalitarian interactions in which both adults and children are all addressed by their first names may help create a more collegial communication pattern between teachers and children in the classroom, although the larger cultural expectations brought into the learning environment by children, adults, and the program need to be considered here in making the decisions about how children should address the adults in the program.

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    Jared Lisonbee, Ph. D.
    Preschool Education Specialist
    Salt Lake City, UT
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