When I teach, I like to try little experiments on the classes...see how much my behavior in the class influences their views and their work. Today's the first day of a new semester, so I've been giving thought to what experiments I'm trying this time around.
For the longest time, I asked the students to call me "Mike"...which they all felt free to do except for the BGSU football players, who insisted on calling me "sir"...apparently, they're really good at discipline over there. Last semester, I decided to have them call me "Dr. DuBose," so I could see if the name thing made any difference. They did call me Mr. DuBose, but for whatever reason, they resisted adding the "Dr."...not sure why. Otherwise, I noted no real difference in their behavior.
A few semesters back, I decided to only refer to my then-girlfriend as "my partner" and stay as gender-neutral as possible. The main result was that, combined with my Hawaiian shirts, it made my students think I was gay...I think that one of them might've even asked me if I was a homosexual.
For this semester, I'm thinking about going as professional as I can, for as long as I can...dressing nicely, professional tone and language in class, all that...and then mysteriously switching into full-bore Mike mode, just to see how they react.
If anyone else has ideas for student experiments, however, I'm more than happy to listen.