Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Male Teacher Bill Ellis by Mike Prochaska
Fellow 30Seconds contributor Bill Ellis is a male teacher who's passionate about child-led inquiry and digital technology use in the class. Here's a peek into why he got into the Early Childhood Education field!
Q. How did you get into this field?
“I took a meandering route into Early Childhood teaching, starting with teaching ESL and in the UK, Poland, Russia, Romania and finally Australia. This included running parts of two schools that specialized in teaching early learners, setting up a small project visiting remote Russian primary schools and universities to promote English language learning, plus setting up, marketing and running a Romanian summer school in 2012. I doubled the number of students in the school’s second year, mainly by designing and adding an Early Childhood department to the summer school. I was finally persuaded to make the leap to becoming an Early Childhood classroom teacher when I found the Master of Teaching (Early Childhood) taught at the University of Western Australia. This course gave me exactly what I had been looking for: an in-depth (two years fulltime) grounding in contemporary evidence-based Early Childhood teaching approaches, delivering an integrated curriculum that incorporates digital technologies and child-led, teacher-guided learning throughout.”
Q. What do you see as the advantages of having a male teacher?
“I’m not sure what advantages I bring as a male teacher, as all teachers have their own approach, regardless of their gender, cultural background and so on. I think that I help break down gender stereotypes just by working in my chosen field, but I feel that many hundreds or perhaps even thousands more male Early Childhood teachers need training and employing before this stereotype is decisively wiped out. What I do question is whether we can honestly say that the best person for the job is always gets the post, when 97 percent of Australian Early Childhood teachers are drawn from just 50 percent of the population. I think that this argument is as valid for males in Early Childhood teaching as it is for women in engineering and other male-dominated spheres, and yet, few of those with the power to change things seem able to comprehend this.”
Q. Anything else you want to tell us about working with young children?
“Working with children is challenging and rewarding, and it is often exhausting, exhilarating and humbling. I have never been able to understand why some feel it ‘isn’t men’s work,’ and I don’t think I ever will.”
Q. What’s your favorite memory working with kids?
“A child coming up to me at the start of her year with me and saying, ‘Mr. Ellis, I’ve been thinking, and I’ve decided to be a good girl from now on.’ And according to her subsequent teachers, she stuck to her word.”
Q. Do you have any Facebook pages or a blog you would like to share with us?
“Make sure to read my 30Seconds tips!”