The Speaking Out article from the March/April issue of Principal presents an interesting issue—referring to your school’s faculty as “my teachers.” Author Eric Glover contends that principals should move away from using the term because it is inappropriate in most cases. “‘My teachers’ is shorter and quicker to say than ‘the teachers with whom I work,’ or ‘the teachers in our school,’” Glover writes. “The problem is that rather than serving as a title of respect, ‘my teachers’ may be interpreted by teachers as a symbol of the power that a principal holds over them.”
Do you believe that using the term “my teachers” is condescending to your faculty? Are teachers being too sensitive, or is this a valid argument?

re: Are They Really Your Teachers?

Interesting topic! I have always had a pet peeve about bosses calling the people they supervise "their workers" or "their teachers." I think it is extremely condescending in a school situation as well as in a regular work environment. To me, it sounds like whoever said it is trying to give themself an ego boost.

re: Are They Really Your Teachers?

As a teacher, I have never been bothered by being "possesed" by my principals. As a principal, when I refer to my teachers as "my teachers" (pun intended), I almost say it in a protective, motherly way.

re: Are They Really Your Teachers?

I agree that it is not collaborative or polite to refer to teachers as 'my teachers'. The other phrase that should not be used is 'my school'.
I've always thought about this and have tried to keep from using both of those phrases.

re: Are They Really Your Teachers?

It is rather difficult not to refer to teachers in conversation with others in this manner, but I do believe that most teachers may prefer their principal's not refer to them in this way. I recently heard a principal complain when her supervisor referred to our Area Lead Teachers as his ALT's. The ALT's work in our schools. I quickly associated this with the term "my teachers" and am trying my best to eliminate this from my vocabulary. Habits are hard to break!

re: Are They Really Your Teachers?

It is condescending to refer to professional colleagues as "my teachers", although few teachers think anything about it. A simple solution is to refer to teachers and other staff as "My colleagues." I've used this for years, and have never heard a complaint-quite the opposite, in fact. The important underlying message here is that we all work toward the same set of goals together, and as equal partners.

re: Are They Really Your Teachers?

This is an interesting topic...

I am guilty of using the phrase "my teachers" and of being offended by the phrase "my school".

I am the Literacy Coach of a charter school outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Both the Math Coach and I refer to our teachers as "our teachers", and in most cases they refer to themselves the same way. Both of us use the phrase, as Susan commented previously, in a motherly protective way. I have spoken with my teachers about this phrase, and because they know me, they know that it is not meant in a possessive controlling way. At the end of the day, my teachers, know that I will always go to bat for them and ensure that they're needs are met, much like a mother does.

As for the phrase "my school" (referenced by Reginald Patterson’s comment), our former vice principal always used it, and the staff in general felt that with it, he took singular responsibility for everything that happened in our building. This representation was in complete opposition to our school motto, TEAM: Together EAST Achieves More.

Ultimately I suppose that it isn't the words or phrases themselves that are used as much as it is the personality of the person who is using them.

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