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AcademicI am a male kindergarden teacher. AMA!

Nov 10th 2016 by biff-boff • 31 Questions • 127 Points

27 years old, working in the field for about 8 years now. "My" kindergarden has 50 kids in total, 2 groups early childcare (6 months to 3 years) and 2 groups actual kindergarden (3 to 6 years). It is also bilingual, english and german. I am the only male in a team of 14 teachers.

http://imgur.com/wd7aGBu

Q:

Mr. Biff-Boff, can I go to the bathroom?

A:

NO! YOU JUST MESS AROUND IN THERE!


Q:

Are special ed students fully included? If not, what is the amount of inclusion time and what benefits/challenges do you see?

A:

We got none, but it strongly depends on the level of disability the child has. If we state that we couldn't keep up with the normal amount of work we would be given a special caretaker only for this child. To be honest I only see benefits except for maybe the added effort. Kids adapt to every situation, so they'll quickly get used to other kids being different and learn to take care and be considerate.


Q:

I actually think at least at kindergarten level, having special needs kids in the group would be extremely beneficial to future social behavior IF you have a good teacher etc...

A:

Completely agree!


Q:

Do you have any significant memories that you'd like to share, from the children you've taught? Something very positive, or sad, etc.?

Has you being male led to suspicion / questioning from parents / employers, and if so do you have any tips for dealing with that? (Here it seems pretty difficult for guys to have any kind of job that involves children because of two pedophiles that were on the news for a long time)

A:

My most positive memory was an italian girl, 3yrs old which refused to speak at all. She was quite the perfectionist I supposed and I figured that she could be embarrassed by making mistakes speaking german (german here btw). So I offered her to "trade" words and that she could teach me italian while I was gonna show her german words she wanted to know. I've put her into the position of the teacher and I was her student, which she liked a lot. One day I told her that the other kids wanted to learn italian too, so she started counting the kids every morning in her native language and all the other kids picked it up pretty fast. This boosted her confidence way up and after about 2 month of intensive work she started speaking german, with very good grammar of course. This girl has left for school a few months ago, we are still counting in italian in the group though....


Q:

I love this, its an amazing teaching technique. =) especially because everyone (including yourself) profited from it =)

A:

Thank you :) Exactly!


Q:

Luckily for you, you don't work here in the United States of Morons :(

May I use this as a quote?

"Never encountered parents which were against kids learning a new language."

I have seen this more than a few times

Edit: Added something

A:

One funny situation comes into my mind: Two boys came to me and asking me to change their pants. It was weird because only the knees of both pants were soaking wet. I asked them what happened but they've been too ashamed to tell me. I asked a few times. Finally they told me they were both going to the toilet and decided to share one because they didn't wanted to stop talking to each other. So they peed into the same bowl while standing when one of them asked the other something and they both turned to each other, peeing on each others pants. It was hard not to laugh at them.


Q:

Hey, I'm a male Kindergarten Teacher too, working in Australia! Glad to see there are more of us around the world.

My question is, do you ever get sick of people instantly talking about how good it is to see a male Kindergarten Teacher when they meet you? Its nice, but it's funny how it's the first thing so many people say after meeting me.

Good on you!!!

A:

Hi there! Thats right, its nice to see another :) Yes constantly. Especially outside of work when meeting new people. It's kind of the same response everytime but I feel that elderly people say it more often.


Q:

Kids that age fall and cry. Are you allowed to hug them and comfort them? I sure hope so but I have no idea in this paranoid society.

A:

Yeah, the do it constantly. It always depends on how hard you estimate the actual injury. Most of the time they fall and look straight to the adults and figure out how they react to it. Some cry instantly due to being frighted but telling from my experience about 80% of the 3-6 year olds wait for your reaction. Knowing this, I usually tell them to come to me and I look closely if they are able to walk normal and stuff. When they still cry I hug them of course, but mostly its already forgotten. Parents tend to be way overdramatic which results in the kids trying to get the most out of their accidents. It's funny to see how fragile they behave once the parents are around.


Q:

I'm glad you are allowed to hug them.

A:

Yeah sure. Would be weird not to. Kids need that from time to time


Q:

It really isn't. I'd like to agree with you on that and find some other kind of explanation but I spent 7 years teaching swim lessons and wow...you couldn't even begin to imagine the sort of shit I saw from parents. The first thing that happened every session was every single mother with a female (and half the male) child would stay poolside for the first few days at least. This was expected for me after a certain point. When they saw I wasn't groping their daughter by day 3 they usually backed off a bit. And by that I mean literally backed off. To a seat or something instead of hovering a few feet from the pool. The real problem came when the children grew attached to me. I don't know what it is, but kids in the toddler to 7/8 year old range just fucking love me. Maybe it has something to do with me being horribly immature. I don't know. But they really do. I would have kids crying because they didn't want to leave my class after time was up. Then there were two completely different reactions. One I loved, where the parents would talk to me afterwards and say things like "My child has never liked the water at all, thank you so much!" and even to the extent where they would request from my employer for me to teach private lessons. The other half was dirty/suspicious looks and complete silence, even if I tried to engage the parents about how I thought their child could best improve outside the lessons. That was extremely disheartening. When you spend time trying to teach a kid how to not drown, when their parents don't trust you, it really puts a damper on things. And the thing was, this never happened to my female coworkers. They had complete trust from the start because "Hey! You have the genitals to produce one of these too! You're automatically trustworthy!". Yes, I do realize I seem like an asshole complaining about this, but it really did hurt. My point is that it's not more complicated than pedophilia hysteria, that's precisely what it is. Any male in our society who shows interest in any way towards children is automatically a pedophile. The real kicker is, when I was in that job, I was a TEENAGER. I mean, what the hell. The sideways looks and lack of response when I tried to talk to parents was made worse by the fake smile I had to put one when interacting with them.

However, I have to say that there were parents, sometimes, who just didn't give a shit about all of that. There is one experience that will stick in my mind for a long time. I was a manager, and one of my instructors didn't show up so I had to get in and teach her class for her. This one little girl absolutely HATED getting in the water at the beginning of the class, but by the end I couldn't get her to stay on the wall! She kept floundering out to try to grab onto me and by halfway through the class might as well have been my personal barnacle. At the end, her mother came up to me afterwards and said something along the lines of "She has NEVER wanted to get in the water much less leave the wall and try to swim. Somehow you got here to learn two strokes today, thank you so much. Is it possible to do private lessons?".

I'm telling that story to bring some balance. There are parents who understand and those who are paranoid. I don't want to exclude the former group from my little argument. However, those were the exception, not the norm. In general, males in society today have to completely ignore children out of fear of being labeled as, or at least suspected of, being pedophelic(is that a word?). And that has to change. How do people expect young men to become good fathers if they are discouraged so heavily from interacting with children?

A:

Thank you for your comment! I figure swimlessons are taking things to a much higher emotional level for the parents since its "easier" to molest a child. It's crazy how some parents react, no doubt here. I think those have some headlines stuck in the back of their heads when some gym/swim/sports teacher actually did something bad. But considering that this is one case in literally thousands makes this fear crazy. There are so many males working with children everyday doing a fantastic job and those parents only need one to mess everything up. I guess they'll be paranoid about anything and are not even considering that there is a pretty high dark digit of female child molesters too.


Q:

what sort of valentines do you get on valentines day?

A:

A lot of painted hearts. We don't do valentines day so much here.


Q:

What kind of first impressions/reactions do you get from parents?

A:

Usually they don't show that they are surprised, but I notice some weird looks from time to time. They are way more sceptical towards me than my female coworkers and I feel being under surveillance for a while until they realise that I am not a weirdo or something. It felt bad in the beginning, but I learned to deal with it and just be professional and nice towards them. Most are exited and saying stuff like "oh, nice to have a man in here!"


Q:

I had a male kindergarden teacher and he was a cool guy. Keep up the good work.

A:

Thank you! I'll do!


Q:

Hahn im korb, huh? =)

A:

Kikerikiiii ;)


Q:

I'm in the last days of my son's Eingewöhnung (helping him adapt to the situation), he loves it (it's a Waldkindergarten) - anything we as parents can do to make your job easier?

Also, how much do you hate parent meetings?

A:

The first one is obvious: Trust us! We know what we do. Even if you hear your kid cry, DO NOT ENTER THE ROOM! It'll get used to being saved by you everytime this happens. Kids adapt fast and they get used to being there. Don't stick around too long when you drop him off, make saying goodbye the final ritual. You'll be gone after that, even when he doesn't like it at first. I've seen it so many times that kinds have figured out how to make their parents feel guilty by crying resulting in staying way to long. It only gets harder for them when you finally leave. Kids also cry sometimes when you pick them up again, sometimes this get overinterpreted and parents fear that the kids don't like the place. Most of the time the kids are just relieved you came back for them (and again make you feel guilty for leaving them there in the first place)
Also especially in a waldkindergarden make sure to have always at least 3 full sets of cloths in the kita, running around try to find fitting stuff sucks. Parent meetings are alright, we've got pretty chill parents. It's more the 3 hours extra after an 8 hour workday which suck.


Q:

Hello,

Do you teach any outdoor lessons like learning about nature or growing a garden?

Also, does the school provide meals and what are they like? US school meals are infamously bad and the internet told me lunches are better in other countries.

A:

Yes we do. We've got nature-day once a month and a forest week once a year where we spend whole days in the forest. Also we have a garden and are growing vegetables there as a project. It's a lot of fun and the kids love harvesting and eating their "own" carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers. Meals are provided since some kids are staying from 8am to 5pm everyday, the quality is alright. Could be better, but would be expensive. I eat lunch with the kids everyday and gotten used to it.


Q:

do you encounter issues due to your gender ? I often see that it's more difficult for men in positions like this as they are often feared of having malicious intentions with childcare jobs as things like changing nappies, hugging kids etc. regularly happens between female teachers and is seen as normal and it seems weird for male teachers, or so is the impression I get from society anyway

A:

Yeah quite some times it happens, but it strongly depends on how your employer thinks about it and how he tells the parents. In my case the parents got told that I will start to work there and that I'm equal to my female coworkers in terms of changing diapers and cloths and stuff. Worked out good, but I've heard of cases where the males weren't allowed to do so. I consider this sexism, but wouldn't miss changing nappies either ^


Q:

You have to change nappies at Kindergarden? I figured that wouldn't be an issue for that age group. Is it just for naptime or are you talking about handicapped kids?

A:

Nope, its daily business. 'My' group consists of 2,5 to 6 year olds, so youre stuck with nappie-kids. Sometimes I help out in other groups and in early education the kids are joining sometimes being only 6 months old.


Q:

You said you worked for 8 years, and that means you started teaching when you were 19. How did the kids and parents treat you back then?

A:

Differently than now. When you're 19 you still need to figure some things out, especially with this amount of responsibility. I think communication with parents is the hardest part to learn, especially when there are some problems. I think when you get older, parents trust you more. When you are 19 and talking to some 40 something parents they sometimes look down on you, since its your first years and they have more experience with children from being parents.


Q:

What do you think is the most unique, positive aspect of the education/curriculum of the German students that schools should look to adopt worldwide? I'm a recent teaching graduate in America so I've loved this thread; thank you for sharing!

A:

I'm not that much involved into school related stuff since kindergarden is a whole other thing here... I think the german level of education is pretty high compared to the US, if you look up what each class is learning in 10th grade you'll see the gap


Q:

how do deal with super bratty kids? Especially when you know that the parents allow that kind of behavior?

A:

The consequences of their behaviour MUST be a downside for them. So testing us is always way harder for the kids at the end. Usually the kids figure out that they can't pull off all the shit they are able to do at home and that's it. I'd tell the parents a few times what might work, but if they are not putting in some effort at home not much will happen.


Q:

I'm an american and took German in high school and college. I'm wanting to read books or watch shows to keep up on my German. My level of comprehension is about a 5-7 year old native. Do you have a chapter book or tv show recommendations at that level?

A:

The simpsons helped me a lot with learning English, maybe it'll do the trick in German aswell. Make sure to watch it with German subtitles on an pause everytime you don't understand the sentence and look it up. I loved the "das sams" by Paul Maar books in that age, they could serve you well.


Q:

How often do you get sick?

A:

It was crazy often in the first 2 years, my immune system had to get used to the amount of bacteria and sick kids around me. Now its about once every two months for a day or two...


Q:

Is there a certain activity/playtime/craft/teaching that you especially notice the kids benefit from? Something that you plan to keep up year after year, a necessity in your curriculum?

Also, I had no idea that you would be getting so many gender specific questions - I didn't think it was a big deal to people. But it made me think: I had a male teacher (grade 6, mind you) and he was one of my most influential teachers of all time. I was thinking of him the other day and wished I knew how to contact him to thank him. I had another in grade 7 for two electives and he was equally as important to me.. I think having a balance of male and female teachers growing up helped me cope with having a very part time dad. Everyone needs a good father influence! So keep it up, you're undoubtedly more important to those kids then they know. Cheers!

A:

Thank you so much, this means a lot to me. I actually wrote my final exam piece about this issue (The importance of male teachers in this age group) and the scientific data shows that boys tend to look for male role models in television when theres none available irl. This is obviously bad, since most Men in TV are strong, don't show emotions and solve conflicts with violence. Every teacher has a specialty somehow. I play guitar and sing a lot with the kids and their interest in music and instruments went way up. A big amount of children wishes for a guitar on birthdays/christmas since I do this and I am happy they adapt the interest in music I'm giving them.


Q:

Wow yes, I could only imagine how amazing it would be to have a teacher play guitar and sing. Arts and music are underrated! To show the value of it (through example) is hugely influential. Those kids are lucky! The world is lucky we've got you.

A:

Thank you :)


Q:

Have you ever had a student that smelt really bad? Like really really bad.

A:

Yeah. One had some kind of a disease which made his sweat smell fishy. I mean REALLY fishy. I was always reminded of my vacations at the sea when he walked by. Besides that theres a rule of thumb for kids: You can smell poverty.


Q:

My daughter loves her male kindergarten teacher Mr. P!!

Are there any free websites that you or colleagues can recommend as a resource for parents of kindergartners? I really want to get more involved with my daughter so far as reading, sounding out words phonetically, starting math (counting objects, money, etc) but I don't know where to start besides the constantly-advertised abcmouse.com. Whether it's interactive with games or simple print-outs, I'd love a starting point.

TIA, and thanks for doing the AMA, great answers

A:

To be honest, no. I don't look up things on the internet about this subject. It's more learning from more experienced people, going on to seminars and sometimes reading up some scientific articles. I figure your kind of kindergarden is more schoolish (correct me if wrong) and focused on learning specific things. In the age of 3-6 this shouldn't matter that much tbh. The everyday situation offers so much questions kids ask, make sure to take time to talk and explain things to your kid. If you don't know be honest and say "I don't know either, but lets find out!"

In that age she wants to know everything and that's the easiest time of her life to educate her. Use that curiosity and offer her places to get new questions like museums, the airport,open house days at factories/facilities and stuff. Teach her everyday situations, like how do I buy a train ticket, go into the forest and limit (family) screen time to a minimum. Girls become overly girly at some point, this gender exaggeration is healthy in some ways. So if shes interested in being a princess visit a castle, if shes into horses look for a farm or place where she can see some. You get the point. Parents are often concerned about giving their kids too little cognitive input and want to offer them some 3rd hand material like print-out learning forms. Free yourself from this thinking, you know this world already and you can explain it to your daughter.


Q:

What's your attention getter when you want everyone to listen?

My gf teaches kinder and I've heard her say these adorable rhymes

Teacher: Tootsie Roll

Students: Lolly Pop. We were talking Now we stop!

A:

I clap loud for 2 or 3 times and start speaking. If a kid is still talking I call him by name and ask him to listen. Some use like little gongs or something, but it's better to use something you can use everywhere like on a trip or in the garden. This rhyme is sweet though


Q:

Is it a tumor?

A:

If google says so it definitely is!


Q:

You smoke weed?

Yeah you smoke weed

A:

All the prejudices about pedagogic workers are true.


Q:

I'm almost sure that's illegal. You work with others kids for fucks sake.

A:

You're not very good with sarcasm aren't you?