Mommy…. My Pre-K Teacher is a Boy!

Mommy! My Pre-K Teacher is a Boy!

How does the journey through education system lead to a person choosing to be a Pre-K teacher?  Let’s take a walk through the life of someone who chose the education profession with the want and desire to teach the youngest students.  The first thing we need to get out of the way is whether wanting to be a teacher is innate or developed.  The whole nature versus nurture argument, we’ll save that for another blog.  For our purposes, we will say that it is innate. Just go with me on this one; who in their right mind would want to babysit 20-25 other people’s children for 6-7 hours a day for the “enormous” amount of pay teachers receive?

Knowing I was destined to be a teacher from the day I was born, I took on certain leadership roles growing up:

  1. Being the first one to see if I could cross the four lane street during rush hour without stopping (the screeching sound scared me more than the cars).
  2. Riding my bike down the steepest hill in the neighborhood, forgetting that I was on my older brother’s bike with only hand brakes.
  3. Running through the neighborhood (I guess blindly) and having my lip meet the concrete pole (still have the scar to prove it).
  4. Chasing that one girl (every neighborhood had that ONE) not listening to my friends as her older brother walked around the corner.
  5. Joining the basketball team while my friends joined something else (could go into details, not necessary for this blog).
  6. Graduating high school and then immediately going to college (older brother and sister completed but didn’t go directly to college).

In college I had to make a decision between money, celebrity, notoriety, fame, distinction, recognition, or being a teacher.  It was such a hard choice, but as I said earlier, I was born to be a teacher.  Other excruciating decisions had to be made in this field of education. What was I going to teach? Below is chart of pros/cons of my choices that help me make my decision.

Grade Level Pros Cons
High School Coaching; one or two subjects Teenagers who think they are adults
Middle school n/a I remember when I was in middle school
Elementary school More freedom on curriculum; teach every subject Have to give young students failing grades
Early Childhood Get to start off the students off; see tremendous growth, parents more involved, flexible curriculum, students love you, etc., etc., etc. Snotty noses, dependent students, diapers

 

Obviously, I chose Early Childhood. Who wouldn’t after looking at the chart.   It was also nice that all of my classes were full of human beings of the opposite sex (who were extremely infatuated with a male early childhood major).  I like to tell myself that last part and it makes for a good story.  After completing the various classes, observations and practicums, I was drawn to the really early grades.  At the time, I knew there was a stigma, from people not associated with education, that is linked with males in the field of early childhood. It didn’t fit me. In fact, everything about my exterior challenged any preconceived stereotype that had ever been made about early childhood teachers. However, my passion was for the youngest children. The way they responded to my presence in the classroom assured me that I was wanted and needed in the earliest grades.  I made up my mind after 16 weeks of student teaching (8 in 1st grade, 8 in pre-K) that any grade over 2nd would cause me to go running instead to work to become famous, a celebrity, rich, etc.  Hence, my first teaching job was in Pre-K.

It takes many hours of dedication and purposeful practice to perfect a craft. I did not have the luxury of growing up in a household that included teachers.  I was the first classroom teacher in my family.  How was I going to make sure I would be the best Pre-K teacher possible was with the 10, 000 plus hours needed as Syed suggests in his book, Bounce. (p. 12) Maybe I had the natural talent. Even though in college I went through many hours of pre-service work, it was not anywhere close to having a classroom of your own.  Many questions were in my mind on how to perfect this new adventure:

Should I read more books?  (not a good idea, reading put me to sleep…and still does)

Should I visit more Pre-K classrooms?

Is this really what I am supposed to do?

How can I make this the best experience possible?

Another aspect I had to face was being a male pre-k teacher.  I truly just wanted to teach.  I knew that there were not very many males in the Pre-K field and that different stereotypes were placed upon those who were.  I sometimes struggled with the notion that I would have to defend myself to colleagues and friends about my choice.  Was this really the feelings and thoughts of everyone else, or was it a mindset? (Syed, p. 169) I somehow had to work through these struggles to clear my mind, to hopefully help me succeed.

“That’s a nice bulletin board!” “That’s such a cute idea!” “That’s so sweet!”  “Oh, how pretty!” The preceding phrases were never words that I could imagine would ever describe my work in early education.  I never thought of anything I did as “sweet” or “cute.” Yet, I had to start thinking this way because of the fact that I was involved with the youngest students. What could I do that could bridge the gap between my rough exterior and the tiny minds that I would be affecting for years to come. How could I be “sweet” and “cute” but still feel like myself.

As the first year approached my mind was inundated with what was going to happen in the classroom. I had to remove the doubt and have irrational optimism. (Syed, p.169) Students did not have a choice but to love this “big teddy bear.”  Parents would trust me to teach their students. Administration and colleagues would believe I was the best for the job.

Finally, the first day arrived and doubt started to creep into my mind again.  Standing 5’11” and weighing about 220 pounds (that was the “freshman 15”…plus 15…plus 15…plus 5) over students maybe weighing in at a whopping 34 pounds and at a height of about 40 inches, I greeted them with a traditional “GOOD MORNING BOYS AND GIRLS”.  I can only imagine how my deep, bellowing voice must have echoed in each of their little heads. Still, the first day went smooth.  I experienced the normal first day jitters for teachers and students with a couple of tears as parents dropped their students off, but as the day went on I knew I had made the right decision.  This was my calling.  Students were comfortable and sought help when they were feeling down.  I even received a few hugs as they were leaving for the day.

After an exciting first day as parents picked up their students, one little girl excitedly told her mother, “Mommy, my teacher is a boy!”sanders

Substance Abuse: The Harsh Reality of Today’s Schools

Summer has come to an end. A teacher’s favorite three months of the year. It’s back to school time and kids are buying school supplies, new clothes, and sleeping in as long as they can. Teachers are eagerly writing lesson plans and making seating charts in preparation for another year of learning. Although, many kids see school as an opportunity for making friends, doing homework, eating lunch and going to sporting events, some middle and high school students see school as a business opportunity. Unfortunately, I am referring to the sale of recreational drugs on and around school campuses.

Kids who enter today’s Middle and High Schools know exactly who they need to talk to if they want to acquire drugs. According to the Monitoring the Future, drug use and attitudes survey, Alcohol continues to be the “drug of choice,” followed by marijuana, which is a close second. Today’s youth abuse and purchase marijuana like they change their clothes or put gas into their cars. To a certain extend, it almost seems second nature. Why is substance abuse among teens “normal,” in today’s society? How did it become so accessible? More importantly, what can we do about it?

It seems as though some schools are more concerned with respecting a student’s privacy, than cracking down on substance abuse. Although it is a parents responsibility to “raise” their children, I believe it is the school’s responsibility to be proactive versus reactive in fighting the war on substance abuse. Schools need to implement more drug awareness and prevention at the Middle and High School levels. This issue needs to be front and center so we can address it correctly. With the help of law enforcement, we can implement such things as drug-sniffing dogs. The methods I am suggesting do not violate students privacy and they have been proven very effective in deterring substance abuse.

Although it is encouraging that over the past several years we have seen a decline in the abuse of illicit drugs, there has also been an increase of people who do not believe the perceived harmful effects of marijuana. The lasting effects can be detrimental, including: memory loss, decreased coordination, difficulty thinking and problem solving, and distorted perception. Would you want this type of student in your classroom?  As school employees we have to open our eyes and really “see” the kids who come into our classrooms each day. Do you take the time to talk to your students? Do you ask them the hard questions? More importantly, are you their “safe” person to confide in? Let’s all work together to fight this war on substance abuse in our schools.

Resources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends

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