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Terms of “endearment”

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by Alexalex94, Jul 3, 2020.

  1. Alexalex94

    Alexalex94 New commenter

    Hi all,

    I’ve noticed that many of my female colleagues have referred to their younger students as “sweetheart”, “daring” or “my lovely” during online lessons.

    I’m teaching in Yorkshire where those terms are common place.

    I have a SEN form from next year, and have been advised to take a more “nurturing”’approach. But I don’t feel comfortable as a male teacher referring to students in these terms - due to the possible miscommunication.

    My questions are:
    1) is it okay to refer to pupils using terms like “sweetheart”, “my lovely” or “darling”?

    2) any other ways I can be nurturing in my everyday language? I’m already very nurturing in my practice and tone of voice, but have been told to be “more nurturing” in my language and have not received any clarification on this.

    3) how do you feel about male teachers referring to students with the terms above? (I’m openly gay with staff and students so that may make it easier!)
  2. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    I'm retired (& male) so it may not surprise you to hear that I wouldn't use any terms like this. I'd use proper names. Teachers should be friendly, but formal and keep a distance, in my opinion.
    steely1, ATfan, phlogiston and 2 others like this.
  3. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    I wouldn't. You could try and reinforce the positive perhaps. X that was very kind of you to lend Y your ruler. Etc
    phlogiston, Marshall and agathamorse like this.
  4. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Don't do things that aren't "you". Some people do that naturally - there is a risk of someone taking them the wrong way, but if they do it all the time everyone just learns that that's what they say to everyone. It also needs to be everyone - what if Peter notices that he's the only one that doesn't get called sweetheart?
    I had a colleague who gave everyone nicknames - most liked and accepted it, but some hated him for it.

    I think it's much safer to stick to names.

    Ask what they meant about "nurturing language"! They presumably had something in mind that they felt was missing...
  5. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I don’t see what your sexuality has to do it with adopting / not adopting any language with which you may / may not be comfortable ?

    Ask for specific examples / definitions of how your language / approach may be more ‘ nurturing ‘.

    I think consistency is key with ALL students.
    steely1 and Marshall like this.
  6. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    I had a colleague who was Northern and used to do this all the time - too me it sounded downright weird, but to her it was totally natural. And BECAUSE it was natural, I think it was perfectly fine for her to do, and I never heard a pupil say anything.
    However, if I suddenly started doing it, it would have come across very very strangely!

    I think you need to do what is natural to you in how you speak, and like others have said, maybe focus on the encouragement side of it.
    nvanlimbeek and agathamorse like this.
  7. JJ83

    JJ83 New commenter

    Do whatever feels right to you - BUT maybe check how the land lies with others perceptions
    I once used a nickname when asking a student a question in a lesson observation and was pulled up for it even though every teacher in school used the nickname when not been observed!!
    phlogiston and agathamorse like this.
  8. pauly22

    pauly22 New commenter

    Don't do it if it's not you. I've known plenty of 40-something mumsy type female teachers who do this and it's fine for them, but that doesn't mean it's your style. There are other ways for you to build nurturing relationships with your students, don't think this is the only way. Find out a bit about them, e.g. what is their favourite band/football team/tv show, what hobbies do they have that keeps them busy at weekends etc.? Get to know them as individuals a bit. Then you can just casually slip in references to their specific interests now and again (It takes a bit of time to learn everything about them, but is worth it).
    phlogiston likes this.
  9. PGCE_tutor

    PGCE_tutor New commenter

    Terms of 'endearment' are just a cop-out for when you can't remember their names. Call them by their real name and they'll likely feel more nurtured.
    Dodros likes this.
  10. Alexalex94

    Alexalex94 New commenter

    It was more about how some students have referred to other teachers as “flamboyant” when using these terms and don’t want that for myself. Should have been more clear!
  11. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    Indeed. Aren't many actors noted for calling one another "luvvie" because they can't recall their fellow thespians' proper names?

    Just as an aside, I was introduced at school to French novelist and short-story writer Alphonse Daudet's Le Petit Chose (1868), which recounts the author's heartbreaking experiences at boarding school. The title roughly translates to "Little Thingamajig" and was the nickname conferred on Daudet by a teacher who never called him by his real name. I've often wondered what that teacher thought when Le Petit Chose later appeared in print.
  12. Alexalex94

    Alexalex94 New commenter

    Thank you for the replies and advice guys! Decided not to use them unless there is a clear need for it I.e. the student is extremely upset and I would use terms like that to comfort them.
  13. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    And avoid nicknames. Kids hate it. They often see it as a comment on their appearance or character.
  14. muso2

    muso2 Occasional commenter Community helper

    As above, don't do it if its not you. Kids can spot a fake miles off, and there is room for misinterpretation.
    A quick Google of 'how to be nurturing' came up with a few nice ideas. Getting to know your students well and spending time doing things with them is a good start. Maybe form time games or circle times would go down well with your new group and demonstrate a willingness to 'nurture'.
  15. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah Occasional commenter

    I think students need to feel like there form is a 'safe place'. I think there is other names you could use e.g. 'Champs'
    You could even get them to come up with a form name so instead of called like 7Y they could be the lions. So form time could start 'morning lions'. As they are an SEN form maybe speak to their year 6 teachers or post of the primary page.
  16. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I had a hated nickname imposed on me by bullies as a kid, one reason why I was glad to move on from my home town. I deeply resented it when a couple of teachers also used this name which I considered to be a deep insult.
  17. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I think it can be useful to have a gentle way of conveying professionally distanced approval for the youngsters I work with.
    I have a range of terms like good old boy /girl that can be used to convey approval without being misinterpreted. They need to be deployed with care.
  18. ATfan

    ATfan Star commenter

    @Morninglover I agree although I once called a student my lovely by accident. Fortunately, the student wasn’t offended. Thank goodness as I teach the over 16s!

    @alexlex94 I’ve been told that I’m a caring or empathetic teacher but I’ve only used the odd endearment by accident as I said. I show that I care by encouraging my students to come to me if they need anything, showing interest in them as a human being, listening to what they say when they do and supporting them immediately if I think they need extra help (e.g. taking distressed students who need to speak to a senior member of the pastoral team somewhere quiet and contacting that person immediately). I’m sure that’s what you do and other teachers do as a matter of course, so am baffled at you being told that you need to be more nurturing.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
  19. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter


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