Male Teachers, Role Models and Partners in Feminism at YWCA Minneapolis
We all know how important it is to have great caretakers and teachers for our children, but do we consider how important it is to make sure these teachers represent an array of genders and backgrounds?
“Dad, can boys be teachers too?”
One story from Matthew, an early childhood education teacher at YWCA Midtown, demonstrates the importance of representing males in a field dominated by women. He explained that an older child came with their dad during pick up time. After seeing Matthew, the older child asked, “Dad, can boys be teachers too?” The father responded with “Yes, of course they can!” and the child exclaimed, “I want to be a teacher!”
This story illustrates that children just need to see different people in these roles to know that it is possible. Matthew feels strongly that it is important for us to teach children from a young age that men can be teachers, nurses and other occupations in female-dominated fields.
Male Role Models Early in a Child’s Life
Another male teacher, Jose, states that an appropriate male role model in a child’s life can go a long way. He feels that it is important for parents and children not to see men as “betters”, but as “partners in feminism and in our mission at YWCA”.
Bobby, a teacher at YWCA Downtown, adds that it is important to have a male role model for the children and they feel more comfortable when they can see both men and women working together to raise them.
Interviews with Four Male YWCA Early Childhood Education Teachers
Here’s a little more about four of our male teachers in the YWCA Minneapolis Early Childhood Education program, who play important roles in advancing YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.
Matt works in the infant classroom at YWCA Downtown and has been with YWCA Minneapolis for over four years. He describes our ECE program as a “diverse group of people who take good care of the children”, and adds “We just love the children; that’s the main thing.”
Matt says that some of the most rewarding parts of his job include: parents being thankful that you are taking care of their children, receiving little cards and notes expressing love and gratitude, and the way the kids love you unconditionally.
Matt’s favorite part about his job is seeing the babies do something new for the first time, such as saying a new word. He also loves when children greet him in the morning and give him a big hug because they are genuinely happy to see him.
Jose works in the 3-year-old classroom at Ecolab and has been with YWCA Minneapolis for just over 3 years. He describes his experience working as a teacher at YWCA as “always very interesting” with a chuckle.
Jose’s favorite part about his job is seeing the families pleased and happy to be there. He talked a little bit about how there’s an “unspoken contract” that teachers are helping parents raise their children and are pivotal to their development. He said that even though there is that “unspoken contract”, parents have so many childcare choices and just the fact that they come back every day and are happy to be at YWCA Minneapolis means so much.
Jose says the most rewarding part of his job is when the children accept him and show their affection for him. He explained that the parents are always happy to have you, but it’s more difficult to earn the children’s trust.
Bobby works in the toddler classroom at YWCA Downtown and has been with YWCA for over four years. Ever since junior high Bobby has been volunteering and helping kids. In college, he decided he wanted to work with children full time.
Bobby’s favorite part about his job is seeing all of his hard work come together in each child’s development. He really enjoys watching them grow and talked about how crazy it is that one day you are just teaching them to talk, then all of a sudden they are forming sentences. He loves when they blurt out the funniest things without thinking. It definitely keeps his job interesting and keeps him coming back.
One of the most rewarding things for Bobby is when parents realize how difficult his job can be and when they truly appreciate all he does.
Matthew teaches in the infant classroom at YWCA Midtown and has been with YWCA Minneapolis for just over two years. He describes our ECE program as an anti-bias focused, child-centered program and describes his experience as a teacher being rewarding, challenging and fun.
Matthew’s favorite part about his job is watching the infants grow “from tiny, crying humans, to walking and almost talking.” He also loves forming great bonds with the parents and gaining their trust.
The most rewarding part of Matthew’s job is “all of the smiles” from the parents and the children. He says there are too many favorite memories to count and they range from a baby smiling at him for the first time to talking to a nervous mom for 30 minutes on the first day, reassuring her that everything will be okay.