How to Welcome Students in a Respectful Way

I was told in an art education methods course in college not to use the phrase “You Guys” with my students and it has always stuck with me. Basically “You Guys” is kind of generalized, casual, and really not all the students are guys (some are girls) wink. We worked really hard in this course to use other phrases to address the students. Not saying “you guys” has become a good habit for me over the years, and one I am really glad I utilize.

entering a classroom

Here are some respectful ways to address your students instead of saying “You Guys”….

  • Hello Boys and Girls
  • Good Morning 4th Grade Artists!
  • Welcome, Friends!
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, Lets make some art!
  • Good afternoon, Class!

What are other respectful ways you address your students?

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Talya

    Since I am a newbie to art education in a classroom (i’ve been teaching private lessons, but will be an art teacher in an elementary school starting this fall) I don’t have anything to add (yet!). But I do like the second suggestion of addressing the students as artists. Definitely going to try that one out when I begin. :)

  • Hmason

    sometimes I call my students FOLKS. It really depends on their age, what kind of mood I’m in, how large a class it is…I teach 5-12, so, it can vary from class to class! When I say, “Listen, FRIENDS”, they know I mean business….

    • I kind of like “Folks” – It’s a nice alternative.

      • Art Teachers Hate Glitter

         I would sometimes use “folks,” until my students kindly asked me stop. Twice.

        • Hmason

          Sooooooo, what DO you call them?

          • Art Teachers Hate Glitter

             Good question. Now that you mention it, I can’t recall.

  • David

    I always refer to my students as artists.  Often I greet them at the door saying,  “Welcome Back to ART!”

  • Brenda

    I work at a small private school.  We have 1 class for each grade.  I welcome my classes by saying, “It’s my favorite 1st grade class in the entire school! I hope you are ready to have fun today.”  The students love it and someone always makes the comment, “We are your only 1st grade class!”  I always respond, “Yes, but you are my favorite 1st grade class.”  If you are working with a larger school you could easily say, “It’s my favorite 4th period class of the entire day!”

    • Erica Stinziani

      Haha Brenda,
      I call all my toughest classes my favorites and it seems to work. . . a little. They obviously don’t talk to other classes or they would all know I’m calling most classes my favorites. My first graders today were sitting up straight folding their hands, the girls were batting their eyelashes, as soon as I said, “see this is why you “guys” (I say guys sometimes oops) are my favorites!” They need that RIGHT!

      • The flattery is a really good strategy. We forget how much positive reinforcement helps students and I used it yesterday with flying colors :) 

  • dawnart

    Some days I call them “Students”  (as in “Alright students…… “) other days I can call them “squirrels” (“Ok, settle down squirrels”  LOL  “My little chippies” works for some as well.  

  • Ms. Novak

    Ha!  I love the comments so far. I remember having a few class discussion about this in college – go figure ;)
     I almost ALWAYS call my students ‘Friends’. – ‘Okay Friends’ ‘I don’t think so friend’  ‘Ready friends’?  I on occasion will call them by their grade level – ‘Alright 1st graders lets get moving’.  I rarely ever call them boys and girls, students, or ‘guys’. 

  • Mary Beth Northen

    I was also told I use “You Guys” too much while student teaching years ago. So to get their attention and a giggle I say “Hello my Snickerdoodles” when they arrive. Every year there is one student who says “What is a Snickerdoodle?” My response “It is a cookie that is super sweet and it likes to draw just like you!” This I must warn is for Pre-K up to 3rd grade. For my upper elementary students, I address them as “Ladies and Gentlemen”. However I say it like I am introducing a three ringed circus. I think humor is a great teaching tool/ attention getter :o) 

    • I am loving all the creative ideas that you all use to address students- The snickerdoodle is hilarious. Aren’t we lucky to work in such a light-hearted profession?

  • leanna

    I know I have the you guys habit

  • Auddity08

    Some of your students may also be transgendered, so I would refrain from “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen”.  “Everyone” and “you all” are easy though not as creative.