Open Discussion Forum

Expand all | Collapse all

Preschool male teachers

  • 1.  Preschool male teachers

    Posted 11 days ago
    I have a new male teacher joining my preschool class next fall. I am very interested to find out what policies you have in your centers in regards of all bathrooms related needs. Thank you for sharing.

    Veronique Liebmann
    Minnetonka MN

  • 2.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 10 days ago
    To offer suggestions we need a more complete picture of the teacher's role and responsibilities.
    Such as:
    Is this a head or assistant teacher?  Is there another adult in the classroom:
    What is the physical description of the bathroom (s)?
    Atour  Lab school, one male teacher was an assistant in the classroom.  The bathroom was observable at all times, from the physical layout of the environment.  Throughout each day the children so benefited interacting with Al.
    I celebrate your hiring decision and will be happy to assist in ideas for your preschool.

    Deborah Moberly
    Children 1st
    University Cy MO

  • 3.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 10 days ago

    Hello.Thats Great!!
    I currently have two male employees,one is a preschool teacher . Male or female teacher ,when it comes to potty time ,the teachers allow the children to go in alone(restrooms are in our preschool classroom).If the child needs assistance ,the teacher stands at the door and give instructions.If a teacher male or female have to give extra assistance,I always tell them to leave the door open and the other teacher can stand by the outside of the door(still observing the children in care as well). 

    I hope this helps 

    DaWaun Ransom
    Dee's Little Angels C.C.C.
    Detroit MI

  • 4.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 10 days ago
    Thank you DaWaun!
    I guess I would raise one question: have you had parents worried about it?

    Veronique Liebmann
    Minnetonka MN

  • 5.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 10 days ago
    Hi Veronica,

    I am a male director and owner of two childcare programs with ages infant to Pre-K and then after-school age 5-12.  I am currently the only male in our program, however we have had other male teachers in the past primarily that worked with our older students in the after-school program area.  I have been working in childcare for the last 12 years and have never had a parent question the fact that we had any male instructors or that we had a male director.  With that being said, we do have some strong protocols when it comes to male teachers interactions with the students.  Male teachers are not allowed to go into the restrooms if a student is in the restroom, regardless if it is a male or female student.  If a student needs assistance in the bathroom, then we bring in one of our female teachers to assist the student.  In some cases we temporarily switch the two teachers so that we can stay in ratio.  Also male teachers can only give side hugs to the students and they are not allowed to let students sit in their laps.  At the end of the day, when the classroom is down to about 3 students, so that the male teacher is not left in the room with only one student.  Our building design is very open with lots of big windows down the hallway and inbetween all of the classrooms and our cafeteria where you can literally see from the front of the building to the back of the building.

    We so desperately need more male teachers in the ECE industry and its just a shame that they are sometimes looked at differently than male teachers in elementary schools based on some bad apples in the past.

    Good luck with your new "male" teacher and I hope he does well and chooses to stay in this industry.  Also try to get him connected with other male teachers or directors in your area or even any that might be at the elementary schools that could be potential mentors for him.

    Tim Kaminski
    Gingerbread Kids Academy
    Richmond TX

  • 6.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 10 days ago
    New parents are concerned and they are reassured based on the our license and reputation.Our center is also set up with cameras in each class.

  • 7.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 10 days ago

    Hi, Veronique,
    I'm glad you asked the question and pleased that you are inviting a man to teach in your program.

    Please tell us more about your program the male teacher.

    For example, is the male teacher an experienced teacher or an assistant who has limited teaching. Have you had other men teaching in your program before and how did it go? I can offer some general information that I hope helps.

    It's important to know that most parents want men to work with children (in one study 98% wanted male teachers). There may be a few parents (and staff) who have questions and concerns and that is important to address. I remember one mom, who was going through a terrible divorce, who was very harsh with me and only me - none of the female staff - with the support of my co-workers and boss, I was able to win her over and she became a great ally to me in my work with her daughter and son.

    In our work (Men in Education Network Interest Forum and, we encourage programs to develop what we call a Nurturing Policy. Years ago a teacher at the YWCA - Guy Pitroski in Minneapolis shared his experiences and we've expanded on his original idea.

    Essentially it answers the question: How do we nurture and care for our children. Do we comfort them with hugs if they get hurt? Do they sit on our laps if we are reading to them one-on-one? What is our policy with changing diapers? There are many ways that we nurture children and being clear with those policies and building in protections for ALL staff prevents problems and protects our children. We work with parents and offer them information and discuss how we care and nurture their children. Some parents may be uncomfortable with men changing diapers because of their culture or beliefs - it's important to have these discussions before the man starts so that you have clear policies (viz. ALL staff change diapers although with thoughtful discussion and agreements there may be exceptions). Interestingly how we nurture children becomes even MORE significant for ALL staff with COVID-19 and preventing the spread of illnesses!

    One of the best ways I have found to think about having a man teach is to replace any sentence about the male teacher with another identity.

    As an example, some might say: I think the male staff should take out the trash.

    Try saying it with the following identities:
    I think the Protestant staff should take out the trash...
    I think the Blond haired staff should take out the trash...

    I think only female staff should change diapers.

    I think the brown eyed staff should only change diapers.
    I think the [place another identity - Latinx, Jewish, Catholic, African-American, etc.] should only change diapers.

    Perhaps these examples provides some perspective.

    As you think about your new employee keep these things in mind:

    1) It is illegal to treat one employee different than other employees. For example, if female staff change diapers, it is discrimination to NOT allow the male staff to change diapers. There are some exceptions, we do make accommodations for people with disabilities (viz. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)).
    2) We recommend a policy that NO staff, male or female, be alone with children and if that isn't possible then have cameras available so that there is documentation to protect the children AND to protect the staff.
    3) ALL staff should be screened (Minnesota requires background checks) and supervised well to prevent any harm to our children. As any Supervisor knows, Criminal Background checks are only one screening tool and should not be used alone in protecting our children from predators.
    4) Are ALL staff supportive of the new employee, particularly his Supervisor and will they welcome him?

    If you provide more information, I can offer more detailed suggestions.

    Bryan Nelson
    M.E.N. Interest Forum

  • 8.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 10 days ago
    We employ men in classrooms from infants through pre-k. I don't have a policy per se, but these are some of my practices:
    • Families are told, when they interview, that we employ men in in all classrooms. In twelve years, only one family has declined to enroll because of this. 
    • I am clear with staff, regardless of gender, that our policies around protecting children from predators are there to protect both children and staff and it is everyone's responsibility to maintain these practices.
    • In terms of screening out predators from applying to work at the center - and I think that's what underlies fear of working with children - we require, in addition to the state requirements, three character references. 
    • We rarely leave any staff person working alone. Our classrooms are designed where one classroom can see on another's diapering area and vice versa. There is clear plexiglass around the diaper area.
    • Separate from the concerns about predatory behavior, there are sometimes staff who are not familiar with the anatomy of the other gender, so we preemptively assume that people just don't know and tell them:
      • we teach the anatomical words to both teachers and children.
      • wipe girls from front to back.
      • Yes, you need to clean the bm from inside her outer labia so she doesn't get an infection.
      • Do not pull a boy's foreskin back, just wipe the outside.
    • We talk about what predators do, both to educate ourselves to be on the lookout and also discourage anyone considering that from even applying.
    • We have conversations about unintentional grooming for predatory behavior.
      • We don't touch children's bodies without their consent unless it is health and safety and if so, the adult gently announces what they are doing. If a child is fussing or resisting, adults will watch each other to see if they can help, to offer moral support, and also act as a witness.  
      • We don't bribe children to pull their pants down and use the toilet.
      • We don't rub children's backs under clothing or under a blanket at rest time.
      • We do not tolerate children playfully touching adults private areas (such as a toddler resting their hand on the top of their teacher's shirt/chest when being carried) - we gently move their hand to a shoulder or arm and explain that is our private space. 
      • We don't tickle children. Families can, of course, but we don't.
    • We study the tactics and habits of predators: they tend to be quiet when they touch children, so we are chatty when we change diapers and describe what we are doing. This will hopefully help children, God forbid, if something ever happened to them: the silence would be one of the first signs that something was wrong.
    • I hope this helps. I feel really strongly that men belong with children for so many reasons. 

    Casey Lalonde
    The Evergreen State College
    Olympia WA

  • 9.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 10 days ago
    "Veronica, I'm glad you asked.  I've heard this question from several directors, and I've also heard new teachers who are men ask, "why are they going to so much trouble to keep me out of the bathroom?  What do they think will happen?"  It has made a number of men I've talked to reluctant to stay in the field, even though they are great teachers.  Children need as wide a variety of role models as we can find for them, so making the field welcoming for all teachers, not just the ones who are similar to the ones who are already in our centers, is really important.  
     I am also from MN so I know that your new teacher has been through a background check.  Is there a reason you've hired a teacher that you don't trust to be with young children?  
      That said, I've also experienced parents being leery of men helping their kids with the bathroom.  Somehow we get caught in the assumption that the only reason a man would want to be in our amazing field is so that he could molest children. There is absolutely no evidence that that is true, but if you think your parents might raise this kind of concern you might want to put safeguards in place for the sake of your  teachers - ensuring that there is always another teacher in sight or earshot to vouch for that teacher in case an issue comes up.  This should happen for all teachers, regardless of gender identity.  

    [Meg] [Thomas]
    [Early childhood consultant
    Co-facilitator for Diversity and Equity Interest Forum
    [St Paul ] [MN]

  • 10.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 8 days ago
    Hi Veronique,
    If I were you, I would not make it a  big deal to anyone. I mean. do not make it a big deal in a way that creates concerns. What I have done in the past. I have had a private meeting with the male teacher and explained to him that unfortunately some parents may have issues with seing a male teacher in the facility and it has nothing to do with the integreity of the teacher, but more with the experiences that parents may have. I told my male worker that to protect himself from any unnecessary allegations, to never allow himself to be without a second person while being around the children. and no camera view. Male teachers are not common in the early childhood field in my area. I believe having one, adds value to your center. It is always exciting to have male teachers in the preschool centers. Good luck!

    [Sandra] R

  • 11.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 7 days ago
    I ran a university lab preschool for 20+ years and the only problem I had with male (student) teachers was children wanting to "rough house" with them. I know research shows that dads tend to play with children differently than moms, more likely to pick a child up and engage in physical play, spinning, wrestling, etc.  Children would try to climb up a male leg, or jump on a male teacher and he would have to talk about appropriate play etc.  I enjoyed them all and as Bryan Nelson reminds us, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, and just out from the Supreme Court, on the basis of sexual orientation also. Young children need to be exposed to all kinds of good teachers so they don't grow up with the biases we did.

    Vicki Knauerhase M.Ed.
    Child Development Specialist (retired)
    Weston OH

  • 12.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 5 days ago
    HI, Veronique,
    Thanks so much for bringing this up. I think we all agree that more men teachers should be a priority in child care, and we need to foster respect for them as well.

    Unfortunately, male workers in any hands-on profession, even physicians, have traditionally been subject to suspicions - to the point of requiring a female present when physical exams are done by male doctors on women. This is a society-wide issue that goes way beyond our classrooms, and is unlikely to change soon.

    Policies that protect our valued male teachers from being vulnerable to accusations are likely the best approach, as we keep our eye on the bigger issue of how great the need is for male teachers. When I presented "Guns and Roses: Issues of boys in a female-dominated world" at the NAEYC conference decades ago, I hoped we would see a huge influx of male teachers well before now, they are so badly needed. But until our field can pay a living wage, we'll struggle with attracting and retaining the talent we need - both male and female.

    If anyone would like a copy f my notes from that session, btw, just contact me and I will be happy to share.

    Hazel Osborn
    Loveland CO

  • 13.  RE: Preschool male teachers

    Posted 5 days ago
    I agree, you cannot discriminate based on gender, however in today's litigious society, male teachers are put in a situation where they have to protect themselves from false accusations, not only with the students but with other staff members.  I have made it a rule that I do not meet with any student or staff member without another staff member being present, however we have that rule in place for every teacher in our center, regardless of their gender.

    Tim Kaminski
    Gingerbread Kids Academy
    Richmond TX