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Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:24 pm UTC
by Farabor
Well, I'm a Graduate Teaching Assistant in mathematics at my local university. Starting in the fall I'll be teaching a course full time. I'm caught debating what to have the students call me. Mr.? Professor? First name?

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 2:47 am UTC
by Dopefish
In the handful of classes I've taken from graduate students, they opted to have us use their first name.

Although really most of the classroom based interaction amounted to little more than *hand raise* "Yes?" "<question>" "<answer>" and no actual name/title calling really anyway.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 2:59 am UTC
by somehow
My perception is that it's uncommon and somewhat frowned upon for people whose job is not "Professor" to ask people to call them "Professor [last name]". This does leave a sort of awkward gap for graduate students, lecturers, etc.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 1:01 pm UTC
by LaserGuy
Farabor wrote:Well, I'm a Graduate Teaching Assistant in mathematics at my local university. Starting in the fall I'll be teaching a course full time. I'm caught debating what to have the students call me. Mr.? Professor? First name?


Calling yourself Professor or Doctor would definitely be inappropriate at this point. When I taught labs in grad school, I encouraged students to call me by name, though a few went for Mr, and a couple just called me Sir.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Fri Jun 20, 2014 4:20 am UTC
by EvanED
I echo the others: I encouraged first name. You'll get the occasional person who does call you prof despite it.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 12:47 am UTC
by doogly
First name is what I went.

Professor is also fine. It's sort of like "captain" in the Navy, in that it's both a rank and a job. You do not have the rank of professor, but you have the job. You are that class's professor, just like a Lieutenant might the captain of a particular vessel. A small, unimportant vessel the tenured folks do not want to be bothered with.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:41 am UTC
by Izawwlgood
Except you probably aren't the professor; you've been handed a syllabus and are following it. Someone else did the leg work of generating the lesson plan.

If a 20 something graduate student in any of my courses had asked to be called professor I'd have laughed at them.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 3:13 am UTC
by doogly
Bold move.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:13 am UTC
by Angua
I think we'd just go with lecturer. But professor here is a title bestowed upon only certain people (you can lecture and run a lab and still not be a professor). I here there are 'hoops'.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:10 pm UTC
by EvanED
Izawwlgood wrote:Except you probably aren't the professor; you've been handed a syllabus and are following it. Someone else did the leg work of generating the lesson plan.
Depends on the setup... I taught a class where I had the freedom to make my own syllabus and lesson plans. (For the record, this was a somewhat unusual gig; officially, I was an "lecturer.") There was plenty of class material available to draw from, but that would be true for actual profs too.

Though yes, I agree... I think it's pretty inappropriate to refer to yourself as professor or ask those in your class to do so.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:19 am UTC
by Izawwlgood
Yeah. I remember many of my 'lecturers' in undergrad were actually TAs, students of the professor who taught the class. As a PhD student, you are by no means a professor, and I say this as a PhD student.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:45 pm UTC
by mathmannix
What was used (by me and others) when I was in grad school:
Title: Instructor
Form of Address: Mr./Ms. Lastname
If you want any respect from college "kids" who are 2-5 years younger than you, you don't let them call you by your first name. (The same goes for high school teaching aides who are undergraduate students working on their BA in education.)

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:19 pm UTC
by Izawwlgood
Maybe doogly can chime in about this a bit more, but my sense from teaching a few years ago was that the kids today (uphill both ways!) have a different bar of respect for professors. It's less about 'you can convey information to me that I need to know' and more 'you are the gatekeeper of my good grades and future'. The good students treated us as a resource to help them navigate the information they had access to, not as a resource to provide them with information they couldn't get elsewhere.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 4:51 pm UTC
by eSOANEM
I'm currently a student in the UK (so we're a lot stingier with the term professor). The main divide here seems to be whether the person's teaching in a large group (lecturing) or a small group (seminars, classes, tutorials etc.).

Lecturers will probably just be referred to and known by their full name without a title but I'd probably address them (at least at first) with a title as well if they're a doctor, professor (only people with permanent chairs here) or anything else more interesting than a mister/miss/misses/Ms/Mx/etc.

In small group teaching it seems to be quite unusual not to refer to and address people by their first name (this is as true of the professors and postgrads I've had supervise me) although I tend to refer to some of the older (and so more senior) ones by their full name. Using titles is unusual.

So I'd be leaning strongly towards to first name (particularly if you'll be teaching in a small group) but you can probably go with Mr surname (or Dr surname if you have a PhD) if you feel first name's a bit too familiar.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 3:15 am UTC
by Euphonium
Farabor wrote:Well, I'm a Graduate Teaching Assistant in mathematics at my local university. Starting in the fall I'll be teaching a course full time. I'm caught debating what to have the students call me. Mr.? Professor? First name?


I have my students call me by my first name. However, some feel uncomfortable with that degree of familiarity and prefer to call me Mr. <whatever>, and while it's awkward for me I respect their preferences and don't object when they do so.

Later in the upcoming year I'm going to be the instructor of record for a course, and I've thought about the extent to which that changes the dynamic--in my opinion, it doesn't. As their TA, I'm still the one grading their work--and while in theory the professor of record could override me, unless it's just egregious they generally avoid doing so. So as a practical matter, the power dynamic remains.

And at any rate, I'm a Quaker so I'm a bit uncomfortable with changing address based on social status anyway...

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 2:19 am UTC
by Liri
I like the Aussie practice of calling absolutely everyone by their first name or "mate". In my first lecture in my physics class, a student called out, "Oi mate, Cuong, can you move the paper under the projector better?" and my foolish, prudish American student-self was aghast. I quickly fell in love with it though.

My dad has his Ph.D and was a professor for years (still has grad students and teaches the occasional course) and always insisted on people calling him by his first name. I went to a lecture he gave last night and he was introduced as "Dr. _____", which, as always, made me wonder who they were referring to for a second.

Unfortunately, 3 years of anal USian profs made me accustomed to doctor usage.


As for TA-ing, go with first name. Definitely.

Re: Title for grad student teaching a class?

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 1:13 pm UTC
by doogly
Oh, and I should add to my earlier thoughts, my qualification that my laxness is very white male. I look like a physics professor, none of the kiddies question that I belong there. I've had women comrades who found it important to come out the gate with the "professor" or "doctor."