Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Teacher's Aid Rob Fox by Mike Prochaska
Rob Fox started many Facebook groups to support men who work with children. I personally find some of these groups very supportive being a man working in Early Childhood Education. Here are some of Rob’s thoughts on working in the early childhood field!
Q. Why did you start your Facebook groups?
“As a support network for educators, often we are lost in our thoughts and think we are alone. In truth we aren’t. There are others out there who are experiencing the same troubles.”
Q. What age group do you work with?
“I currently work as a teaching aid in an independent school in Cambridge, England … I work with children aged 3 to 7 years old. Over the 10 years in the profession, I have worked with children aged 3 months to 11 years in a variety of settings, after-school clubs, nurseries, preschools and state and independent schools in London and Cambridge.I have also worked for six months teaching in an independent international school in Northern Italy.”
Q. What was it like teaching in Italy?
“I was young! I didn’t speak Italian! I learned the value of communication and what it’s like to struggle to be understood! I learned to speak with gesture and my hands. Influence to my practice has allowed me to see through the lens of my children who have English as an additional language and how the classroom needs to be adapted in order to support students who have EAL.”
Q. How did you get into the education field?
“I have a sister who is eight years younger. My first experience of early years was working as a volunteer at her primary school as a 15-year-old student during school holidays, taking football practice and leading creative activities. I knew quite early on this was my career path to follow. I also feel my journey predominantly stems from struggling at school with the learning challenge of Dyspraxia.”
Q. What are the advantages of male teachers?
“Well, I don’t see gender as the main advantage for being a male teacher. It’s about breaking down barriers, developing a shared understanding within society that the caring professional, especially male, does exist within the care and education sector.”
Q. What’s your favorite memory working with kids?
“Every day I love [that] it’s an opportunity to create memories! Every day the kids teach me.”
Q. Do kids need more time outside at school?
“Not enough is given! Outside time is magic! Real learning! Exploration of organic makes children’s ideas, theories and perspectives come to light. I love giving children time to develop their own ideas. Planning to explore their own ideas brings about engaged and intrigued learners who will want to learn and investigate more. Often as adults we feel we have the end result! And must guide learning to ensure children meet certain outcomes!! I wish care and education drew more focus on the image of the child. A stronger focus on individual needs and learning styles.”
Q. How do you feel about the man who lost his job for being male?
“I was once told I would never do anything in the early years. I’m told that I never had the backbone to make a successful career within the sector. This is what drives people away. Fortunately I am rebellious to this matter. In the case of the young man in Australia, I don’t know the circumstances. Ignore those doubters, have belief in your ability! Stay strong share ideas and believe in what is right! Question when unsure of what to do! It pushes me forward! I was the sixth person who resigned that week!”
Q. Anything else you want to share with men who work in ECE or are thinking about it?
“To be honest, I’ve felt like giving up! Many, many times! Now at 26 years old I stand strong with my own pedagogy and confidence in what I do is right! Reassured in the feedback and supportive network I have around me. Reflect constantly each day! What was the purpose of what I’ve provided for children? The relevance of the activity and taking a step back to truly acknowledge what children’s individual needs and abilities are. Listen through all lenses. Seek to understand the works of educators in Reggio Emilia and the words of Loris Malaguzzi. Respecting that we all come from different backgrounds. It’s not to make pre-judgements based on decisions that parents have to make.”