Deciding what your students should call you can be difficult. Below, we've listed the options and common thoughts on/concerns about these choices. Ultimately, go with what makes you feel most comfortable.
Mr./Ms./Mrs. Last Name
Many TAs ask their students to call them by their last name. This formal approach can help foster respect in the classroom, and often times younger TAs appreciate it as a tool for setting boundaries between themselves and their students.
However, some TAs feel the last name is too formal. Being called Mr./Mrs. makes them uncomfortable, or seems unnatural, and they feel it stands in the way of creating community in the class.
TAs who ask their students to call them by their first names often give examples of how much it meant to them as students when their professors asked to be called by their first name. This approach can foster a sense of trust and mutual respect, and make a TA more comfortable, which is an important aspect of teaching.
However, some TAs feel the first name is too informal. They worry it blurs boundaries between teacher and friend, and causes students to respect them less.
TA Testimony--A Word of Advice Concerning Names
Whether you choose to have your students call you by your first or by your last name, you might want to consider telling your students what you want to be called, rather than leaving that choice up to them.
"I had a TA tell me that students got confused when she told them they could call her by her first name or her last name, but I decided to try it anyways. I introduced myself to my class as Sally Jones and told my students they could call me "Sally" or "Ms. Jones," whichever made them more comfortable. Now, a month and a half into the semester, two or three students call me "Sally," another dozen call me "Ms. Jones," and the rest avoid any type of salutation. I've now become uncomfortable with the two or three students calling me by my first name when the rest do not. I find myself hesitating before sending out a group e-mail because I don't know how to sign it. Next semester, I'm planning to just go by "Ms. Jones."