Providing a diverse staff offers more options for children to find a teacher to relate to and be inspired by.
—Bryan Nelson, menteach.org
“Being a man in an infant or toddler or preschool room has its challenges,” noted early childhood consultant Jerry Parr in a recent World Forum Café gathering on men in early childood. Calvin Moore Jr., President of the Council for Professional Recognition, would agree: “When I started working at a Head Start center, I was the only man, and parents were looking at me sideways. It made me feel unwelcome and alone.”
Confronting and addressing these challenges may provide a welcome pathway for the many programs struggling to recruit and retain staff. As Parr’s colleague Kenny Spence of Scotland points out, nearly half the population of potential caregivers and teachers have long been absent from our programs because programs often fail to intentionally recruit and retain men among their staff.
A 2019 study from the NYC Early Childhood Research Network made recommendations after reporting that less than 4 percent of preschool teachers were men. Among their suggestions:
- Recruitment: do intentional outreach through internships and volunteer opportunities; reach out to those considering career changes and enhance outreach through existing programs to include early childhood.
- Retention: provide targeted mentoring and affinity/support groups specifically for male teachers and caregivers. Strive for pay equity between early childhood and elementary positions.
- Representation and Equity: ensure recruiting, outreach and professional development materials include representations of men.
For up-to-date statistics on men in care and education, visit MenTeach.org.
Jerry Parr, Kenny Spence and colleagues will be hosting a one-day in-person event on recruiting and retaining men, A Man for All Reasons, on April 15, 2024, in Vancouver, BC, Canada.