Question: Titles

A reader asks…

I’m about to start teaching in the fall. Any ideas for gender-neutral titles my students can call me? (Secondary school)

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on September 21st, 2011 at 04:00 pm

Category: questions 18 comments »

18 Responses to “Question: Titles”

  1. Anonymous

    depending on how progressive your school is, what about your first name of choice?

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  2. Anonymous

    How about Leslie? The actor Leslie Cheung is famous for his use of the name. :)

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  3. Anonymous

    i teach high school, am genderqueer, and go by my first name, but everyone does at my school. if you need to have a title: doctor, professor, master, jediknight all seem pretty gender-neutral to me.

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    Dorian replied:

    Mmm, Jedi Knight is such a good one! You could address your students as padawans.

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  4. Anonymous

    I’m fond of the Mx. title (pronounced mixter?)

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    Eld replied:

    Yup! This is what I use.

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  5. Lyddy

    As opposed to sir/miss? Teach, Prof, your first name, a shortening of your surname if first names are a nono and you’re in art/music/drama (I had a music teacher called mr crockford but we all called him crockers)

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  6. Anonymous

    Mixter is a gender neutral alternative to Mr/Ms/Mrs.

    It’s shown as Mx

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  7. Anonymous

    I teach 6 -16, and they call me by my first name. Aside from being gender-neutral, I find that it levels the playing field between student and teacher, and creates a less authoritative, and overall better learning environment.

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  8. Anonymous

    How about

    O Captain my Captain!

    Like in Dead Poet’s Society. Then be “Cap’n” for short. Captain are male and female, after all.

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  9. Rachel

    From kindergarten to grade 6, and then again for my fifth year of high school, we addressed our teachers using first names. I always preferred that.

    Though if your goal is to introduce the idea of gender neutrals, I’m really liking this “Mixter” thing people keep suggesting. Makes you sound like a DJ.

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  10. Anonymous

    You could try “sensei” or “wise-one”…altho the first makes it sound like you know martial arts and the second makes you sound full of yourself :P

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  11. Anonymous

    I’m the OP. Thanks for all the suggestions! So far, it seems they are avoiding the whole name thing unless absolutely necessary.

    I’d like to be able to use some of these suggestions, but it’s a rather tiny and incredibly conservative area–gender issues don’t even cross their minds.

    I agree with number 7 a lot though, and I’ve been trying to keep it as level as possible because I think it is more conducive to learning. Some of the other teachers think it undermines authority, but I do not agree. :-)

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  12. Anonymous

    I am facing the same issue and first names are not much of an option here. I go for Coach or my last name. What if you give the kids an option to choose what they will call you? Risky with secondary’s but maybe it will allow you to find something that works for you and helps the students feel more comfortable.

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  13. Regen

    As a student I have had a number of teachers who I never figured out what to call them because no one ever addressed them (including me). Admittedly this was mostly in language classes (where the issue was that i didn’t know the appropriate title in the language rather than for the gender), but it’s an interesting thing. I always sort of wished teahcers would start the class by saying “Hello, class. You may call me:______(insert name/title here)”. As for this question, I think the most natural-sounding (and least controversial) completely androgynous title is “Professor”. Mx. is cool but you have to have attention called to yourself all the time. Master is masculine-specific in that it does have a female counterpart. And everything else (except maybe teacher) makes some kind of statement. Not that I’m opposed to making statements, but… (realizes is rambling, ends comment)

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  14. Anonymous

    In most of my classes, from secondary onward, we’ve always called our teachers by just their last name, unless asked specifically for something else. Even now in college, we don’t say Professor So-so, we just either use first names, or last names with no honorific. Heck, I’ve got a professor everyone calls Dove, and that’s what he prefers.

    I think as long as you don’t make a big deal out of it, most kids will be really flexible. And most will probably end up calling you Teach. anyway.

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  15. Jess

    When I was small and in school, teachers were “Mr.” or “Mrs.” I recall having a substitute who was a “Miss” but that was unusual. They had given up wearing black academic gowns a few years before I arrived on the scene. It was a world of such rigidity that I never conceived of anyone voyaging away from their sex at birth. That was in the same realm as transforming into an eagle or a leopard.

    There are lots of ways in which the world is better than it was when I was a child. Who knows but that by the time I am all done with this mortal coil it will be possible to experience the world as an otter an owl for a while.

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  16. The OP

    I love the idea of “Professor” (it reminds me of Hogwarts), but it almost seems a bit pompous when everyone else is going with the traditional gendered titles without blinking.

    *sigh* Sometimes I wish I could be “normal” and not have to deal with this sort of thing, but then I think about how boring life would be…

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