Why do Students Call You and Their Teachers by Their First Names?

Contributor: Allison Keil, Co-Director & Co-Founder of Community Roots

I used to be asked a version of this question on every tour. I realize that whether or not a parent’s educational experience was positive or negative, elements of school that are different than their experience in school can be  jarring.  

Therefore, when one first steps into our school and walks down the hall,hearing a little person call me “Alli” can be off putting to some. On these tours, I have begun to address this question before it is asked, before we walk our halls, when we are all together in the family room for the first time.  I begin by talking about our school culture as warm, nurturing, and built on trust and respect. Respect, I have found is not based on formality but instead is the basis for a deep relationship. I have a strong belief that children should not be taught to blindly respect authority. I believe that it is our responsibility to begin our relationships with young people by modeling for them respect for humanity.  Is this the way of the world?  

Not currently, but in setting up an educational environment where we are starting with 4 and 5 year olds, we have an opportunity to create something new, something innovative.

We have an opportunity to develop deep relationships with each other as adults and with children. And as we get to know each other, we get to know what each person needs to be successful, to take risks and to learn. And we find that when these basic needs are met, trust and respect develop, first modeled by the grown up and then mirrored by the child.