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What should my students call me?

June 4, 2010

During one-shot library instruction session, the issue of what to call the librarian instructor rarely arises.  Now that I’m teaching a geology class again as an instructor, the “what should students call me” question comes up.

Title options for the Royal Opera House website registration form

Title options for the Royal Opera House website registration form

Students often take the path of least resistance – they don’t call me anything.  Emails don’t begin with a salutation and there is rarely a need for them to refer to me by name in class.  I used to give extra credit on quizzes and exams if students could correctly answer the question “What is your instructors name?”  Fewer students than you would think got it right.

So far this summer, the students who call me anything seem to default to “Professor Swoger”.  Is this appropriate?  While I am the instructor for the class, and I certainly like to profess things, none of my official titles contain the words “professor”.  My “budget title” says Senior Assistant Librarian, my “local title” says Visiting Reference Instruction Librarian and the title on my business cards says Science and Technology Librarian.  We don’t use the term librarian as a title in the same way that professor is used.  “Librarian Swoger” sounds a bit odd.

Generally, I don’t correct students if they use the title Professor, but I do correct them if they default to “Dr. Swoger”.  I don’t have a PhD, so that title doesn’t apply.  I also have a sense that Professor also applies to PhD recipients or folks with the appropriate job title.

I’m kind of ambivalent about telling students to use my first name.  Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don’t.

Of course, I could be Mrs. Swoger, but I always look for my mother-in-law when that is used.  I prefer Ms.

So, when I send my class an email, how should I sign my name at the bottom?  Perhaps I’ll try to be consistent by the time the course ends, or I could follow the lead of my students and just not sign my name at all!

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2 Comments
  1. Paul MacLean permalink

    I might try “Bonnie Swoger.” (Now where does that last quotation mark go?)

  2. I ask my students to call me Stephanie, both in my librarian role and in my adjunct professor role. It just seems cleaner. Also one of my favorite teachers (full professor) asked us to call her by her first name, and I figure if it’s good enough for Candy, it’s good enough for me. 🙂

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