Ask the School Psychologist...|
by Beth Bruno, Ed.M., M.A.
Male Elementary Teachers
I recently received the following letter from a male elementary school teacher who wrote persuasively about some of the reasons we need more men teaching our pre-school and elementary aged boys.
Many young, impressionable Florida boys (where I'm from), come from single, female-parent homes and have never ever seen a man read anything until those boys enter our middle schools, after about six or seven years of learning from exclusively female teachers. In the part of Florida where I live, most of our elementary schools are staffed with females only. Many well-qualified, Florida State Certified, male elementary school teachers interview with elementary school principals, but those principals usually hire female elementary teachers.
Federal Law TITLE IX (1972) was supposed to prevent Gender-Discrimination in hiring teachers for schools receiving federal funds (all our public schools receive federal funds). One male elementary teacher interviewing with a principal was told, "This is a very impressive resume...and you're a military veteran, too. Wow! I am very impressed, but I'm going to go ahead and hire that sweet little thing from Kentucky, if she ever gets her paperwork turned in."
Nationwide there are only 6% male elementary teachers; we need to proactively recruit and hire many more male elementary school teachers. Our young, impressionable boys need to emulate professional men. Our elementary school children need to see a gender-balance of men and women working well together.
Here in Florida, for many years we fourth grade teachers were wined and dined by the publishers of reading textbooks who tried to convince us to select their different basal readers to be used in our county and schools for the next ten years. I was the only male fourth grade teacher in our district. Since mostly all female teachers selected the reading textbook (one I remember was filled with chapters about a preteen girl named Rosalind), boys might not have been very interested in those stories, further turning them off to the important skill of reading. Maybe a better subject content would appeal to the boys, causing them to take a greater interest in reading. I have been able to really make a difference with the students and their parents, causing our school to become more father-friendly.
Perhaps some female elementary school teachers and female elementary school administrators deeply resent men entering a "woman's workplace," i.e., our elementary schools. So, our boys suffer...more males go to prison than females; more females go to college than males. Many males have died as Army/Marine foot-soldiers because they lacked academic skills to learn a more advanced, protected trade/skill. Yes, we definitely need positive male role models for our boys and all children need to see men and women working effectively together in our elementary schools.
Fourth grade male teacher in Florida
Note from Beth Bruno:
My son, who teaches elementary science, offers a different perspective. He says, "I don't think the small number of male teachers at the elementary level has to do with any conscious preferences by personnel directors or principals. There are simply very few male resumes collected for elementary school teachers. I remember the two principals who hired me were practically frothing at the mouth at the prospect of having a 6' 5" athletic male candidate show up wanting to teach third and fourth grades.
"The need for teachers of any gender is strong, so I don't think gender preference plays much of a role at all. Male teachers tend to gravitate to middle and high school, while elementary tends to be dominated by females. Part of this is traditional cultural differences between genders that are still playing out. But I believe this is starting to change. The desire is there to have male teachers at the elementary level. To read an excellent article on this subject, go to: http://www.freep.com/news/
"Many people think that size and a booming voice equals intimidation and respect from students. In reality the total opposite is true. Ask anyone who has attended a hardcore Catholic school. The most intimidating presence in the whole world is a soft-spoken, drill-sergeant nun who stands at 4'11".
Gazette Articles by Beth Bruno:
Beth Bruno firstname.lastname@example.org
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