By Miss Taylor
My students and I are on a first name basis. Yes, you read that right. I let them call me Miss Taylor instead of by my last name. You may be wondering what my classroom climate is like. I’m here to assure you that it is fine! My students respect me, but they do not FEAR me.
What students should call their teachers has been topic of discussion for years. The new wave of Millennial teachers has really changed what classroom management, classroom climate, and respectability politics in the classroom look like. I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Millennial teachers are bright eyed and bushy tailed young people from the Mid-West who are fresh out of “Teach for America”. They have watched “Freedom Writers” a few times too many and they rush into the classrooms of the inner-city only to get their butts handed to them. After 3 years of absolute hell, they quit and leave all of those kids they came to save stranded. They retreat back to their parents’ businesses and leave saving the world to their month-long crusades in rural villages in Africa. So much for making a difference, right? That stereotype is honestly based in a lot of truth, but I could unpack that an entirely separate blog post. My point is that there are many young teachers that are holding their own in the classroom and they’re doing it their way.
Every teacher who goes by their first name has their own list of reasons, so I cannot speak for everyone on this. I can break it down into three main reasons why I chose to go by my first name:
- Ms. Glover is my mother. I am 24 years old, honey! Ask any person you know what they think of when they think of a teacher. Nine times out of ten they are going to say that she is ugly, old, and mean. Very Miss Trunchbull-esque, if you will. Don’t ever get it twisted, boo. I’m a Miss Honey. I’m a little tougher than her though.
2. It builds a closer bond with your students. My Nana always said, “You attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”. See what I did there? If you’ve ever seen “Game of Thrones” think about Margaery Tyrell. Everybody dies left and right on that show and its usually over pride, an unwillingness to compromise, or both. I absolutely love Margaery because she is a strategist. She knows how to form relationships with people. She knows how to gain the trust of the people around her and does it effortlessly. She makes her self-interest and advancement seem like it was really your plan all along. Let’s pretend like your classroom is Westeros. Don’t be a Joffrey Barathean. Don’t be a Rob stark. Don’t even be a Jon Snow. Be a Queen Margaery. See, she’s on a first name basis too. Give a little and gain a lot! Having your students do things for you because they trust you almost always turns out better than having them do things because they fear you. Build rapport with your students and keep your head.
3. Letting your students call you by your first name ends the power-struggle. Traditionally, students refer to their teachers by their last name. I’m from the deep South and more than anything, we love tradition. Even if its to our own detriment. Miss Glover is traditional, formal, and BORING. We live in an age, where the whole world is literally at our fingertips. You may be strict and formal with a perfectly quiet classroom, but studies have shown us that a quiet classroom isn’t a learning one. You must be vulnerable to learn. If your teacher isn’t willing to open up to you, why would you let yourself be vulnerable enough to learn something new?
Don’t take me wrong. Just because you use your last name doesn’t make you a stick in the mud. It doesn’t make you uptight and unchanging, but for me it would be dishonest. I am in my twenties and frankly, I don’t feel like Miss Glover. I feel like Taylor. I am Taylor. Why would I hide that from my students? Kids know when your faking it anyway.