Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Toddler Outcome Specialist Ben Planton by Mike Prochaska
Ben Planton is a Toddler Outcome Specialist for Partnerships in Early Learners in Indianapolis, Indiana. He's been in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) field for over 12 years. Here's why he loves what he does!
Q. How did you get into this field?
"Throughout my life I have worked with most age groups of children in various roles. Summer camps, before- and after-school care, babysitting and the like. I always enjoyed it but when I went to college I knew that I wanted to do what I could to make the world a better place and pursued a degree in political science. After graduating I worked for a couple political campaigns and a labor union – none of those positions gave me what I was looking for.
"My wife and I moved to Indiana from Ohio for her to attend a Masters program and I found myself needing to find a job. A couple minutes walk from our apartment was an NAEYC Accredited ECE program that was looking for part-time aides. It sounded fun, so I got a job there and within a week discovered that I really enjoyed the work – and I was making the impact on lives that I had always wanted to.
"Over the last 12 years, I have moved throughout the ECE profession and am now the Infant Toddler Outcome Specialist for Partnerships for Early Learners and am working on statewide level."
Q. What do you see as the advantages of having male teachers?
"For me it has been the times I was able to connect with male student, both children and adult students, as a role model. With such a small percentage of the workforce, even more so in the infant and toddler worlds, it is important for everyone to see that it is ‘OK.’ Most of the ‘advantages’ I have heard people talk about – more willing to engage in rough and tumble play, for instance, can be found in teachers of other genders."
Q. Anything else you want to tell us?
Q. What is your favorite memory working with kids?
"I had a moment when I was working with a group of infants where an entire conversation about trust and safety happened nonverbally. A little girl wanted to know if something was OK to try and I supported her through the experience from halfway across the room, while working with a few other infants, with a few meaningful looks. After her success we shared a big smile."
Q. Any websites or blogs you would like to share?
"My organization, PartnershipshipForEarlyLearners.org, has a blog with tips for ECE providers as well as news about what is going on in Indiana. NewAmerica.org is a wonderful site full of resources for discussion our work on transforming our workforce. The Heckman Equation is the leading resource for how what we do has sustained economic and social outcomes."