How Should Parents Address Their Child’s Teacher?

a teacher in her classroom

Having a good relationship with your child’s teacher is important. After all, they teach and care for your child all day, five days per week for nearly an entire year.

How you address your child’s teacher is an important first step in building a strong bond.

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How Should Parents Address Their Child’s Teacher?

Parents should address teachers in the same way their children do until told otherwise. The respectful choice is to use the teacher’s title followed by their last name. Some schools use a title followed by the teacher’s first name. It’s fine to follow this protocol if it is expected.

Keep These Things in Mind When Addressing Your Son or Daughter’s Teacher

mom meeting daughters teacher

I have an undying amount of respect for teachers. They do a job I could never do. They are patient, loving, caring, and wise people who spend their days helping young people grow into intelligent, responsible adults. I will never not be amazed by teachers.

As a parent, there may be times when you want to talk to your child’s teacher. You might want to form a relationship with them or talk about concerns.

In all cases, you should use the teacher’s title followed by their last name unless and until the teacher instructs you otherwise.

Keeping Things Professional

Teachers are professionals and expect to be treated as such. We refer to our children’s teachers as (please note names mentioned in this article have been changed for privacy reasons):

  • Dr. Coulson
  • Mr. Smith
  • Ms. Johnson
  • Sra. Rodriguez
  • Coach May

And so on.

I would never consider calling my child’s doctor by her first name. Why would I speak on a less professional basis with a teacher?

There are times when a school uses a title followed by a first name. This is standard in nursery schools, dance academies, and some non-traditional secondary schools.

Some schools of thought believe that using a first-name basis is more productive than a title. Use the form the teacher or school prefers. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to go with the most formal, professional choice.

Teach Respect By Showing Respect

Children learn how to respect others by watching how you behave. The simplest way to teach your child respect is by showing it. It’s considered respectful to address a child’s teacher by an honorific and their last name.

What happens if you’re unsure of the teacher’s honorific? You may question if the teacher wants to use a genderless title or if they prefer to be addressed as a different title like Coach Fitz, Nurse Mackenzie, or Principal Simmons.

The simplest way around that is to ask first. “How should I address you?” is a respectful way to start the relationship with any member of the school’s staff.

Forming a Friendship

sign that says it's about relationships

There may be a time when you become close with your child’s teacher. Thanks to the open nature of our neighborhood elementary school, I am on a first-name basis with many of my children’s former teachers.

They have attended family events and parties. We’ve had birthday celebrations together. In one instance, our families even traveled as a group.

Even though we are friends, I still use a title and surname at school and during school events. Likewise, when talking to my children about their teachers, I refer to them in the same way.

While I might know him as “Grant” in social settings, his name is always “Mr. Ward” when speaking to my child or when we’re in professional environments.

The opposite has also been true. My husband’s close friend later became one of my daughter’s teachers. She excitedly called our house to tell us that our daughter would be in her classroom. Once again, the person we always knew as “Bobbi” was to be referred to as “Ms. Morse.”

Building Boundaries

There are situations in which you may not be comfortable with developing relationships with teachers and administrators. You could see a benefit to keeping relationships purely professional at all times.

Teachers often find that maintaining boundaries is vital to ensuring a healthy, positive relationship with parents. Using an honorific and last name is a good way to keep the relationship professional rather than personal.

It’s important to remember this isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. My son has eight teachers.

Two of them have asked that parents and students use first names. A third prefers to be called by their last name with no honorific. The remainder have opted for the traditional title-plus-surname. Parents should respect these requests.

Treat Teachers in a Professional Manner

Using a teacher’s title followed by their last name is a respectful form of address. You show you honor the hard work the teacher does by treating them in a professional manner.

How do you normally address your child’s teacher? Tell us in the comments.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Parents should address teachers by their formal name when sending an email. It should be their title (Mr., Ms., Dr., Professor, Coach, etc.) followed by their last name. Parents should do this unless instructed by the school or the teacher to do something different.

The name etiquette is for parents to address teachers formally. This would be the teacher’s title (Mr., Ms., Coach, Dr., etc.) followed by their last name. Parents should do this unless instructed otherwise.