I have tattoos. A lot of tattoos. While I have always taught my students to not "judge a book by its cover", looking at me sleeveless you might assume I was a hooligan, a vagabond, anything but than a preschool teacher. When I first started teaching I covered my art. I was afraid of being seen in a different light, criticized, and worse, my ability to educate a child put in into question. I remember the first time a parent saw my art slip out from under my sleeve. I could see the internal conflict in her eyes. Judge this woman who her child raves about, or accept the idea that a “Ms. Honey” may be rocking a full sleeve? After a moment she stared into my eyes and whispered, “I’ve always wanted a tattoo.” From that moment I decided I was going to embrace my decision to adorn my body and show off my tattoos. Little did I know the decision to show off my art would lead to one of my favorite classroom explorations ever.
With sleeves rolled up I felt like I entered the classroom for the first time. I was nervous, not so much about the parents, but about what the kids would say. Quickly, my tattoos became a topic at rug time. “Are those tattoos?” “Will they wash off?” “Did you draw those this morning?” “How did they do that?” “Did it hurt?” The children’s interest in my art didn’t stop there. As a progressive classroom, the children’s play was the driving force in our theme of study. Much to my surprise the children began to play "tattoo shop". Not wanting to pass up the richness of this topic, we dove in. (Keep in mind the parents were completely aware of this new exploration, and to my pleasant surprise were really excited! ) If one student decided to get a tattoo, they needed a good reason why and they were required to do the art themselves or “pay” an artist for their work. Their desired art and motivation was then pinned on a wall in the “tattoo shop”, aka the loft. After a day the child was asked again if they wanted to still get the tattoo or make changes. With the day-long waiting period passed, the art would be transferred onto a sheet of temporary tattoo paper and applied. During that rug they would tell the rest of the class about their tattoo and the meaning behind it. The tattoo limit was one a week. It was amazing. The children took great pride in their art. They excitedly showed it off at recess, and spoke endlessly about their ink to anyone who listened.
I learned so much about my children that year. While, I’ve been close to all my classes, this particular group was different. Through their art I discovered what they valued, what experiences resonated with them, the beauty they found in the world. It was truly inspiring. They made me think about the purpose of my own tattoos. Why did I get them? If forced to have a day waiting period would I have still gotten them? What do they say about me and what I value?
My tattoos tell my story — my adventures, my success and failures, moments of healing, of courage and strength. They are a part of me and I will never cover them up again.
With great power (to teach empathy, vocab, math and more...) comes great responsibility! Go through the pros and cons of adding a pet to your preschool classroom with Rachel.
Thinking about bringing a pet — guinea pig, hamster, frog, or fish — into your preschool or early learning classroom? Rachel maps out some of the benefits — like building a curriculum and fostering empathy — as well as some of the pitfalls... yes, we talk about pet funerals. Watch for developmentally appropriate tips for using a pet with your early learners.
- Amazing at creating empathy, encouraging little ones to think outside of themselves
- Great addition to curriculum: e.g. language skills and vocabulary (describe the pet) or math (how much does the pet weigh?)
- Fosters responsibility: Who will feed the pet and clean its cage?
- Responsibility: Ultimately, the responsibility falls on you as the teacher to care for the well-being of your class pet.
- Price: The cost of food, bedding, toys, vet visits, etc. can start to add up!
- Pets are a full-time commitment that doesn't end when the term does. Where's your guinea pig or fish going to spend the summer holidays? (SPOILER: Probably at your house.)
- Pets eventually die, and you'll need to explain that to the kids. (Rachel says honesty is the best policy, as far as this goes!)
Rachel shares six things you should never say to a preschool teacher - watch for a fun look at the life of an early childhood educator.
Do preschool teachers need a degree? Aren’t they just a glorified babysitter? Isn’t it nice having the summer off? These are just a few questions preschool teachers get all the time.
Preschool teachers shape the country’s future. They can take care of 19 kids at once. They may or may not have their own kids, and probably juggle another job. You might have a lot of great questions you've always wanted to ask a preschool teacher -- and you should! -- but here are 6 questions to avoid:
- Do you need a degree to do this?
- You're basically a babysitter, right?
- If you love kids so much, why don't you have any of your own?
- It must be really nice to have the summer off...
- If you really cared about kids, you wouldn't care about the salary.
- Doesn't it get tiring watching kids all day?
Early childhood educators, keep the conversation going. What questions do you get about teaching that really grind your gears? Tell us in the comments section below.