What do you call your students?

This topic came out sideways at Dy/Dan recently and the linguist in me got interested. For fun– what do you call your students and why? Reflect on it. Why have you made that verbal decision, and what does it mean (if anything)? Is it personally meaningful, slang, regional dialect, something your mentor called his/her students, what your mom called you?

9 thoughts on “What do you call your students?

  1. Hm. In general conversation I call them “guys”. It’s a PA thing, that guys is used of mixed gender groups and seen as normal, but my VA students have enough teachers from my old home state that it seems neutral to them.

    When it’s time to pull attention back to center or I have something of extra improtance to say, it’s “Ladies and Gentlemen.” The formality of it is a signal to me and then of the level of seriousness.

  2. I call my fifth graders ‘ladies and gentlemen’ most of the time. I’ve done it because I want to be treating them as mature, responsible learners and it’s a reminder of that to me and to them. However, if they are not behaving as mature, responsible learners I end up calling them ‘boys and girls’. They quickly learn that if I use those terms there is a problem.

    I also refer to them as ‘DiscoverOrrs’ (my last name is Orr) when I’m getting their attention. Most teachers at my school have some sort of name for their class, often chosen by the students.

  3. Guys. But it bothers me every time. I actually have a conversation with my classes to talk about the limitations of the word. I wish I could find a better term that included the, you know, other 51% of the world population.

    But what are the alternatives for middle schoolers? Gals? Too twangy. Ladies? Too formal. Girls? Too young. Women? Too old. Muchachas? I do like that one…

    I feel like David Abram here, with language limiting how I experience the world. Argh, crisis. We meet again…

  4. I get to use all kinds of cool expressions like companeros(friends, companions)mis hijitos(an endearing term-my children) jovencitos-ditto. amiguitos, muchachitos…
    I could go on-it has much affection in Spanish. It shows caring and is not demeaning.

  5. Hmmm, this is fun!Let’s see, I use “ladies” as in “Ladies in the front, please desist the talking while I am”. “Gentlemen” for “Gentlemen, please leave the crayfish IN the pan”. “Sir” is for “Thank you very much, sir” for the young man who is doing the yeoman’s share of cleanup. Then there’s “y’all” for generalized class critique (“Y’all better learn how to get along a whole lot better than this!)picked up from my four years in Ohio, along with calling soda “pop” ;)

  6. Back when I was an undergrad, at the ripe old age of 20 (I’m 34 now) I was doing some sort of pre-student teaching gig. You know the deal, once or twice a week to get our feet wet.
    Anywho, I had 5th graders. I would refer to them as “guys”. Never thought anything of it. Then, when I got my evaulation at the end of the semester, the teacher criticized me for being “unprofessional” by using “guys”. She also criticized me for never wearing a tie (I would wear nice pants and a sweater most days with dress shoes) even though she told me on day one, “oh, don’t worry about wearing a tie”. So the teacher may have been just plain crazy.
    Funny thing, she was a young teacher (26 or so years old), so being old and traditional wasn’t the case. If it really bothered me, she would have pointed it out earlier. Go figure. Hopefully, she is no longer in education. I feel sorry for her children. A sad person she was. But, I digress…

  7. I also have 5th graders. They know I want their attention when I say: “Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages…” Usually said in a circus-y voice.

    By the time I’m finished with this statement, I usually have all of their attention.

  8. “Folks.” It’s gender neutral, less formal than “ladies & gentlemen”, and a little more age-appropriate for high school students than “boys & girls.”

  9. Mongrels!!

    I mostly use: “guys” and “ladies and gentleman”…less often, but frequent enough: “people” and “boys and girls”

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