Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Middle East Physical Education Teacher Jace Ferguson by Mike Prochaska
Jace Ferguson is a physical education teacher in the Middle East. Currently, Jace is in his 12th year as an educator and does not see an end in sight! Read on to learn more about Jace…
Q. How did you get into this field?
“It was back in high school where I discovered my passion for teaching. When I was in grade 11 we had an option called ‘Work Experience,’ and this course focused on exploring career pathways that might be of interest to students. I was that kid who was always in the gym playing and I thought that it would be a great idea to shadow my Phys Ed teacher (Mr. Fiveland) and get a hang of what it was like to be an educator. It was through this experience where I discovered my passion for teaching. After this, I was assistant coaching the junior teams in my senior year and was volunteering my time at events working with parents and students from our local community. I was hooked on education!
“When I graduated high school, I was actually enrolled in pre-med and on the track to pursue a career in the medical field. I was still involved with coaching and youth sports but at the time I thought medicine was the best path for me. But it was not my passion. Halfway through my first year, I transferred out of medicine and into the Bachelor of Education and Physical Education program. To me, happiness is pursuing your passion and education was that passion.”
Q. What is your favorite activity to do with your kids?
“I have this app on my computer called "Move It" and it works as a movement timer. In my classroom lessons, I have this timer set to go off every 20 minutes (we have 70-minute classes) to give the students a short mental break and to get the body moving. This is a great tool to use for students who need to simply move in the classroom.”
Q. What your favorite memory working with kids?
“This is a tricky one. There are so many memories that I could call favorites, but I have to go with my most recent ‘favorite moment.’ Last year I was working with a student and we build a strong connection. However, at the end of the year, he made the decision to transfer to a different school, but he promised to come and visit. At the beginning of this year, I had a tragic loss in my family where my little brother was killed in a collision and I missed the first week of school to be back home with my family. The week I returned this student came to visit the school and searched for me until the end of the day where he finally caught up with me.
"What this student said next simply re-enforced why I am an educator: ‘Sir, I wanted to tell you that I am sorry for your loss. I know that you will be OK because you have shown me what it means to persevere over challenges and when to ask for support. You taught me this and that is how I know you will be OK." Then this student gave me a huge hug and that is when it hit me, the impact that I have on these students and why I became an educator in the first place.”
Q. Why is play important for children? And recess?
“Play is a crucial part of a child's development. Through play we not only develop the physical literacy and fundamental movement skills that we need to be active for life, we are also developing healthy understandings, social skills, cooperation skills, communication skills and behavior-management skills that will benefit us throughout our life! Recess and free play are some students favorite part of their day and the only time when they can truly express themselves. This is critical for the holistic development of the child.
“It scares me that some schools are making the move to cut quality physical education and recess time so that their students can have more time to develop their math, reading and science literacies. There is the short-term increase in test scores but at the sacrifice of the big picture: moving students are better students overall. These students develop the tools to cope with academic stress and balancing academics with life and this is where we sometimes fail our students. Without these tools and development, they lack the skills needed to deal with the academic stresses that come with graduating high school, completing the IB (International Baccalaureate) and going on to university and colleges where they are left to their own devices.”
Q. Anything else you want to tell us about working with young children?
“I hate the term ‘put on your teacher hat’, ‘career’ or ‘job.’ Being an educator is a lifestyle and that is the reason why some professionals succeed and some leave the profession. That doesn't mean a lifestyle cannot be balanced. Finding balance in this lifestyle is key to enjoying it for years to come.”
Q. Anything inspiring to tell anyone thinking of going into this field?
“I think Ben Parker said it best: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ As educators we have the power to influence and mold future generations. We can choose to repeat the errors and mindset of the past or we can choose to foster the seeds of innovation and change. This is our responsibility.”
Be sure to check out Jace's blog, TinCanPhysEd.com.