Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Me Tarzan you Jane

Not to worry. This is not an explicit post about me being dragged off to a tree house by a man wearing a leather loin garment. It's fortunately more harmless.
I have been pondering for a while on what Amanda I. Seligman has addressed in her First Person narrative over at The Chronicle: How should students address you? Amanda is an advocate for offering her students to be on a first name basis with her, but finds out later that not all students are comfortable with this familiarity. She is not so much worried about not earning respect from students based on the familiarity fueled by the first-name.
Well, I am. Just yesterday I was mistaken for a student strolling across campus. Last week at a dinner party hosted by Department Chair with students and faculty present, Department Chair’s husband asked me when I will graduate. Clearly, I need to work on appearing more like an adult. How can students possibly trust someone to teach them understand upper division science who they could envision as their dorm roomie? First-name basis? I just don’t know. There are the nightmares of a lecture hall of students in paper ball fights around a bonfire of textbooks with me tied down against a urinal in the men’s restroom. I however might not even have a choice in the matter. The conundrum is that most of the members of my department are on first-name basis with their students. If I insist on Dr. TenureTrackNewbie, I will radiate self-esteem problems. Perhaps I underestimate my future students. Maybe despite the familiarity of the first-name they will show mercy and not toss me into the school fountain while pouring chicken noodle soup all over me because I have to give them a C…
In the end even Amanda doesn't have an answer even after years of experimentation with the various approaches. I am greatful for her 1st person narrative, and I am curious if other faculty have any words of wisdom.


Dance said...

I'd say start formal--you can retreat if you don't like it, but it will be tougher to go from first name to Prof TTN. Ask other/senior profs in your dept whether they think it would reflect badly--I suspect that checking in with the culture of the dept first will absolve you of the charge of not fitting it. Isn't this an SLAC? Are the students that rowdy?

Really, I'd go with whatever is going to create the least anxiety in the back of your mind as you are teaching and in the classroom itself, just like you should always wear the clothes you will worry about least/feel most confident in.

I'll try to get out a post on my own experience/process with this sometime soon--short version: I also look young, and I go formal all the way--skirts and Professor Laughter.

Lesboprof said...

I do think talking to the other professors is a good thing. I have taught in 4 schools (1 as a grad student) and each had different cultures. My last school, in the South, was more formal, and the Southern students could NOT use my first name. My current school is VERY informal--only the Dean gets a title. Everyone else is known by their first name.

I have always had a pretty strong presence in the classroom--even when people in other settings were confused as to whether I was teacher or student. So, just b/c other folks get confused, you can just "be in charge" and they are likely to buy it. As I told my gf, the students (for the most part) are sheep who have been trained that the one in the front is the teacher who has all the information. I maintain very clear boundaries with students, too, which I think helps in keeping my role clear. I don't drink with them, or hang out, or discuss my personal life. And, of course, as I get older, the whole thing matters less.

Field Notes said...

I can empathize with your conundrum. I'm also regularly mistaken as a student and am unsure about how exactly to navigate the name/title thing.

I worry that being on a first name basis injects an attitude of informality in students that fills them with inappropriate expectations. "You're my friend... you should grant me an exception, extension, go easier on grading, etc. etc." is what happens.

On the other hand, I've taught at SLACs where that level of informality is the norm. I had to constantly be firm about classroom policies. Dressing more formally helps. Eventually you find your groove!

TenureTrackNewbie said...

Thank you, dear readers, for your very helpful comments. It's good to hear from other faculty who have gone through this learning process before. Everyone's suggestion seems to be to go with the SLAC's culture, which is first names for everystudent who wants to. I plan to follow Field Notes' advice on dressing formal. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

black mold exposureblack mold symptoms of exposurewrought iron garden gatesiron garden gates find them herefine thin hair hairstylessearch hair styles for fine thin hairnight vision binocularsbuy night vision binocularslipitor reactionslipitor allergic reactionsluxury beach resort in the philippines

afordable beach resorts in the philippineshomeopathy for eczema.baby eczema.save big with great mineral makeup bargainsmineral makeup wholesalersprodam iphone Apple prodam iphone prahacect iphone manualmanual for P 168 iphonefero 52 binocularsnight vision Fero 52 binocularsThe best night vision binoculars here

night vision binoculars bargainsfree photo albums computer programsfree software to make photo albumsfree tax formsprintable tax forms for free craftmatic air bedcraftmatic air bed adjustable info hereboyd air bedboyd night air bed lowest pricefind air beds in wisconsinbest air beds in wisconsincloud air beds

best cloud inflatable air bedssealy air beds portableportables air bedsrv luggage racksaluminum made rv luggage racksair bed raisedbest form raised air bedsaircraft support equipmentsbest support equipments for aircraftsbed air informercialsbest informercials bed airmattress sized air beds

bestair bed mattress antique doorknobsantique doorknob identification tipsdvd player troubleshootingtroubleshooting with the dvd playerflat panel television lcd vs plasmaflat panel lcd television versus plasma pic the bestThe causes of economic recessionwhat are the causes of economic recessionadjustable bed air foam The best bed air foam

hoof prints antique equestrian printsantique hoof prints equestrian printsBuy air bedadjustablebuy the best adjustable air bedsair beds canadian storesCanadian stores for air beds

migraine causemigraine treatments floridaflorida headache clinicdrying dessicantair drying dessicantdessicant air dryerpediatric asthmaasthma specialistasthma children specialistcarpet cleaning dallas txcarpet cleaners dallascarpet cleaning dallas

vero beach vacationvero beach vacationsbeach vacation homes veroms beach vacationsms beach vacationms beach condosmaui beach vacationmaui beach vacationsmaui beach clubbeach vacationsyour beach vacationscheap beach vacations

bob hairstylebob haircutsbob layeredpob hairstylebobbedclassic bobCare for Curly HairTips for Curly Haircurly hair12r 22.5 best pricetires truck bustires 12r 22.5

washington new housenew house houstonnew house san antonionew house venturanew houston house houston house tx