Preschool classrooms have traditionally been led by female teachers. One of the new trends is towards having male teachers in those same classrooms.
The demand for male teachers is driven by the larger # of boys in classrooms for ages 3-5. The data below shows that the % of males exceeds those of females from ages 0-9 in
|% of Males||% of All||% of Females||% of All|
|Median Ages:||38 yrs.||37.5 yrs.|
Having the majority of kids in a classroom be male drives very different class dynamics. Some of the things that occur are:
- Teachers have greater challenges controlling order in the classroom. There is nothing like having 18 energetic boys in the classroom after naptime.
- There is increased need for physical stimulation and interaction.
- Boys tend to be more interested in playing sports during recess time.
These are just a few of the reasons we made the decision to have at least one male teacher in each of our preschool classrooms. Male teachers tend to be more comfortable engaging in sports and other physical activities with the children. Boys also value having someone in the classroom that looks like them.
A major barrier to men becoming early childhood teachers is the pervasive belief in our society and in the childcare profession that men are less able to care for and educate young children than are women (Kennedy1991; Neugebauer 1994). Several of the men that we employ have 4 year bachelor degrees and do an excellent job teaching our curriculum. Some other concerns about male teachers are,
- In many settings, parents are concerned with men working with young girls. We take a proactive approach and ensure that all our male teachers understand our very strict policies on touching and discipline, how to prevent suspicion(for example, by not being alone in a secluded place with a child or having a little girl sit on their lap), and how to build rapport with families.
- Fellow teachers and families might also believe that men are not well suited to work with young children. Like all teachers, men need to be able to articulate their approaches to teaching in terms of learning and development, describe clearly the reasons for their classroom practices, explain how these relate to school priorities, and share their previous education and training experiences.
Other teachers should not always expect men to assume the role of disciplinarian, playground manager, or substitute custodian, just as they would not expect females to have predetermined roles based on gender (Sargent 2001). Instead, men should be supported in exercising the full range of practices available to all teachers. When we first began employing men in the classrooms, some of the female teachers assumed that meant that the male teachers would be the only ones required to empty the trash cans at end of day. We had to quickly help them understand that each teacher would handle their share of the teaching requirements as well as the end of day cleaning requirements.
Male teachers have been overwhelmingly accepted by parents, students and their peers in our school. We employed this model first in our school age area and then began expanding to our preschool classrooms over three years ago. We appreciate the leadership, patience, charisma and energy our male teachers bring to the classroom.