Tutor and Client etiquette - We'd love to hear your thoughts

May 21st, 2014 by First Tutors

This week Prof Coates, a notable academic in the field of English language and linguistics, stirred up debate when she suggested that the use of "Miss" to address teachers in the classroom is a bit of a shocker when one considers that male teachers are typically referred to as "Sir." She observed that really, one would expect in a regime where men are, "Sir,", women might me "Ma'am" or "Madam" (as is the case with judges), or if something less imbued with rank and status is preferred, perhaps the two could be "Miss" and "Mr", but having one as "Sir" and the other as "Miss", felt a bit wonky and a curious lesson to teach children about how the land lies between the genders. Naturally, debate got very heated, varying from cries of 'It's PC Gone Mad!' (political correctness, not your laptop) to demands to strip teachers of any titles at all and call them simply by their first names. Contentious stuff indeed!

This got us pondering the level of formality in the relationship between tutors and clients. As Debrett's haven't got round to covering this one yet we thought we'd ask you for your views on appropriate etiquette between these parties? Certainly, the relationship between a tutor and client is very different to that between a school teacher and a pupil, partly because it is one-to-one and pointedly outside of the school setting, but also, let's be honest, because in private tuition, as with any other industry, the customer usually expects to be king. Which begs the question, who should be calling who "Sir" or "Ma'am?"

We've had the odd complaint from a parent because the tutor sent them smileys by text message and kept on being matey, which they felt was far too informal. On the other hand, we've had parents say that they felt the teacher hadn't adjusted to the fact they weren't at school and accordingly they were a bit frightened they might get set lines if they put a foot wrong.

So where's the balance and what do clients expect from tutors and vice versa? Should tutors be leaving their classroom persona behind them and building a buddy relationship, or is that going too far? We'd love to hear your thoughts over at our G+ page.

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