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Male ECE professionals: support a professional group that can potentially impact the entire community

This innovation will provide support for males currently working in ECE & encourage males to enter ECE to help the most vulnerable children.

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Written by

Name or Organization

Applicant: Soren Iverson Gall

Geography

I am located in Denver, Colorado. The work related to men in early childhood education has occured within Denver area. The work can be expanded to Colorado, Rocky Mountain region or at a national level.

What is your stage of development?

  • New Innovator, with less than one year of experience in ECD

Type

  • Individual

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Describe your submission in one clear sentence

Men in Early Childhood-Colorado aims to implement networking and recruitment opportunities to address a need for males to be work within ECE settings (teachers, assistant teachers, directors, cooks, and other roles) within Colorado.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

Within the state of Colorado and at a national level, there is an epidemic of suspensions and explusions occuring within the early childhood setting. The highest precentage of children expelled and suspended are African-American boys. By creating a culuture where males are encouraged and supported in ECE, we can begin to develop a system where young boys have the resources and voice that they need by having a male influence within their ECE setting. Although the male ECE professional might not be in their classroom, it would be benefical to have a male perspective in these tough conversations.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Network: Connecting people with each other to enhance the reach or effectiveness of new or existing resources.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

Our innovation looks to provide an opportunity for males in ECE to be successful within their profession. This innovation will address the concerns, issues, and experiences that males might encounter by working in ECE. By conquering these issues, we will able to address concerns related to the suspension and explusion of young boys in preschool. By more frequent interactions with male role models/figures, young boys could potentially have the ability to be more successful in school

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

We are aiming to solve the problem of how young boys are understood and how it can effect their future success in life and educational opportunities. This problem also relates to the influence that males can potentially have within education at a younger age, 0-8 years old. The final portion of the problem that is being addressed is the lack of males working within early childhood education.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

In looking at the field of early child education or education in general, currently there is a low percentage of males that work in the field. My idea involves ways in how we can support the males that currently work in early childhood education and recruit more males to enter early childhood education. Being the labor statistics have not changed drastically around the number of males working in ECE, the importance of this topic revolves around supporting the males that currently work in ECE. This support begins with an idea of understand what males in ECE want. There would be oppotunities for networking. Networking could involve meeting together for a happy hour, gathering at a coffee shop, participating in a community service event, attending a sporting event or other opportunities for conversation and community building. Within the field of ECE, there are few males who work in the classroom setting or within administrative roles in ECE. It is important to offer males the opportunities to have a mentor that can help them be successful in their career. Being that there is a majority of females within ECE, these mentoring opporutunites could involve have a female mentor and a male mentoree. The primary reason for the mentoring is to help an individual grow as a professional and much of the ECE does not relate to gender-specific issues,. The last item is working on advocacy for males within the ECE field. Due to social stigmas and stereotypes, men in ECE often struggle to feel successful or wanted in the field. Some of these could be pedophile concerns, the social stereotype that woman take care of children, and males need to the breadwinner of a house.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

By having more males working in ECE and supporting the males that currently work in ECE, there will be benefits to a variety of groups within the community. The group that will benefit the most from these interactions will be the children that have the opportunity to interact with a caring and nuturing male within their early years. In particular, there are issues with ECE about suspending and expelling preschoolers for school. The highest percentage of individuals are African-American boys, but in general there are a higher percentage of boys then girls that are expelled or suspended. Boys are misunderstood as individuals and this begins at a young age. By having more of a male presence within ECE, these boys will have advocates as a majority of males could voucher that the behaviors traditionally associated with boys are age approriate and quite common. These behaviors involve rough-housing in a safe way, making weapons out of anything that resembles a sword or gun (straw,stick, paper, etc), and talking about superhero concepts. By having more males within the classroom, the parents will benefit as they can understand that there is someone who can relate better to their son. The other staff members will benefit from this idea as their morale will ideally increase. The community will benefit as eventually more resources can be placed into children that could use additional support rather then focusing on behaviors that are associated with typical development of a boy.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

By providing a support network and mentoring opportunities for males in ECE that strengthen this specific demographic within ECE, the impact could be significant. We are looking to see how we can influence the quality education that young children receive. Although this submission has mentioned African American boys, the impact can be seen across all demographics of families and children.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

Being a children of a higher SES might have addtional support or less chance of having multiple adverse childhood experiences, if they are suspended or expelled due to behavior concerns, they would be more likely to be able to bounce back from that experience. A child who comes from a lower-income family will potentially not have that flexibility. If that child gets expelled or suspended, the parent needs to have child care to attend their job or school. If they can't find child care, then they might lose their job or leave school. Thus, they are not as able to bounce back on their feet quicker.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (1500 characters)

Historically, the field of education has been a woman-dominated field. Yet, the more information that comes out about societal issues, they often revolve around the presence of a male figure in a child's life. Being that there are different family dynamics with our society, the first potential regular interaction that an individual child might have with a male could be at the early childhood age. We all know that early childhood education can have benefits long term for our society. The more that you invest in ECE, you are going to spend less money of prisons, government services, and other items. With strong ECE environments, we are able to begin a strong foundation for creating productive members of society. My concept is innovate as we are looking at a specific demographic of the ECE workforce that can potential benefit from a serious issue of suspension and explusion. We are struggling in investing in mental health and having the qualified staff to conduct these services. This concept will take a different approach to this issue that can be having a more lasting effect.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

There are a few social media networks that focus on males in ECE, yet I think by providing the opportunity to have more personal relationships and connections, we would be able to make a larger market. By creating a more refined and structured organization, there will be able to the possibility of scaling this so that the idea can be spread to the approriate network. With the current strucuture of this cause, it is purely by word of mouth. By having the needed funding to promote this idea more significant, we can reach a larger crowd.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

Based on the experience that I had done thus far on this work, I think it would be feasible. I have already worked on gathering males in ECE within Denver. I have also had the opportunity to speak at national, regional, and local conferences about this topic. In those conferences, I was able to meet other males and females that were interested in talking about this topic and discussing viable solutions to support and encourage males in ECE.

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (1500 characters)

I think it is a viabile option to support males in ECE through the creation of a support and mentoring opportunites. From past excperience in working with this cause, the barriers that occur is actually working with males in ECE. In our society, males are often not taught to share any emotions or frustrations. In creating an authentic experience, we would have to create group standards that would allow for males to express their thoughts in a comfortable matter. I think it would be how the faciliation of conversation occurs and how the group activities and professional development is arranged.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

I have worked in ECE for 14 years and I quickly saw that there was not opportunities for support or networking for males in ECE. Due to social stereotypes and stigma, males are not encouraged to enter ECE and often have trouble staying in the field. While applying to participate in a fellowship, I developed the idea of creating a group within Denver area with the focus of gathering men working in ECE. The group remains limited in our activity but individuals often approach me about this topic. I am always excited to work within the early childhood space. There is a consistent increase of knowledge in the importance of brain development at a young age and how high quality interactions and care can benefit children when they eventually become adults. I always love interacting with children and see their joy for live and how everything that they approach is new and exciting. As adults, we often get wrapped up in the daily grind of life. Children can teach us alot about what to appericate and what to notice in the world. As mentioned above, I have worked in ECE for 14 years. In this time, I have worked as a teacher, education coach, grant manager, family specialist, and community coach. I have worked in a variety of early childhood settings (Head Start, religious-based, university-based, and private). This had allow for me to see the different levels of care and the support that families receive. It also has allowed me to see how teachers and assistant teachers provide different instructional opportunities for their students.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)

Since I began work on this over seven years ago, I have been able to share my passion about this with a variety of community-based organizations and schools. I have also spoken to alot of males within ECE about an opportunity to share their experiences. In addition, I have spoken to females that are passionate about supporting males in ECE. I feel the connections that I lack the most are the approriate connections with the university and community college commuinity.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

Being that this is a unique group to be working with, I have always seeked out and still seek out people that are working with a small section of a workforce group or population group. I know that it is important to catch all the conversations but more importantly how do we recruit individuals to participate.

Would you like mentoring support? [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]

  • No

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Attachments: Please upload relevant attachments or graphics or show us how you prototyped.

Audio clip that Men in ECE-Colorado created (50 males in ECE interviewed) https://soundcloud.com/meccolorado2/men-in-ece-master-clip

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As a single mother, I strongly support any notion that brings more men to the Early and Primary years of teaching. All the best to you!