Monday, August 16, 2010

"I Know How, Teacher Tom"


Of course, we keep a supply of bandages in our first aid kits for real blood lettings, but I also always have a box of my own at hand for those less serious (e.g., non-existent or ancient) owies.

This is how it typically goes, "Teacher Tom, I need a bandaid."

"Do you have a bloody owie?"

She shows me the afflicted body part.  Sometimes she'll confess it's not bloody any longer, but it was bloody yesterday. We'll usually have a discussion about how she got her owie.

"Okay, let me get you a bandaid." I remove one from the box saying, "I'll have to show you how it works."

"I know how, Teacher Tom."

"No you don't, I'm the grown-up and you're the kid. Show me your owie . . . Okay, so this is how it works. I have to stick it on." I then wrap the bandage, still in its wrapper, around her finger or knee. As it falls to the floor I say, "There, that's how it works . . . Hey, something's wrong with this bandaid! Let me try again." When it falls to the floor again, I say, "This bandaid is broken. I'll have to get you another one."

"No, Teacher Tom. You have to open it first."

I'm flummoxed. "What do you mean?"

"Open it . . . " This is usually when she takes matters into her own hands. Sometimes it's not the child with the owie, but rather an onlooker. "I'll show you."

As she starts removing the wrapper, alarmed, I'll say something like, "You're tearing it!" By this time, we've usually drawn a crowd. Someone will assure me that the bandage is just being opened. Once the bandage is removed from its wrapper, I officiously take it in hand again, saying something like, "Okay, now I'll show you how it works," and proceed to attempt to stick it to the owie without removing the backing from the adhesive side, which naturally results in it again fluttering to the floor. If she still has patience with me, I go through the whole "it's broken" routine again, but more often than not she snatches it back from me and proceed to apply it herself.

Once the wrapping has been disposed of properly, I'll say something like, "There I taught you how to put on a bandaid."

And more often than not she'll object, saying, "No, I showed you."

It's all part of my curriculum of teaching the children of Woodland Park to question authority.

I'm sure I'm not the only preschool teacher for whom boxes of bandages are a classroom essential.

At the beginning of each school year, during our monthly parent meeting, the parents of our incoming 2-year-olds give the rest of us tips on how to comfort their child when upset. "Bandaids" are always high on the list of comfort items, usually right after "distraction" and "books." It makes sense. Bandages are a concrete symbol of caring and healing.

Sometimes we make art with them, but more often than not we use them to heal our bloody babies who are tragically covered in bloody owies.


It's dramatic play . . .


. . . it's a way to work on fine motor skills . . .


. . . we have conversations about our own experiences with owies . . .


. . . and talk about body parts . . .


. . . and emotions. Oh, those poor, poor babies!


After awhile their owies will heal and they'll be all better.





Bookmark and Share

15 comments:

Deborah said...

Hahaha - those poor babies look like they have really suffered! How awesome it really is to see the learning that can take place with a simple bandaid. I think the reason you are able to encourage your children to question your authority on issues is because they respect your authority in the first place:) I have observed many classrooms where the teacher lacks confidence and therefor the issue of authority is confused with "being in charge." When loving and confident leadership is always present, then the ability to give children room to question the authority is only natural. I am not sure if I am stating my point clearly so I hope you get it:)

Life with Kaishon said...

You use every moment to teach. I love that.

Teacher Tom said...

@Deborah . . . I'm not sure I would use the word "authority" to describe how they see me, but I know what you mean. For me, I think it's more like, "If I hang around this guy, something fun/interesting will happen, but I have to pay attention because he's wrong A LOT!" I think of myself more as a "games master."

I genuinely see the classroom as owned by the children. They are the authorities. When we put away the blocks, they aren't "my blocks" or "the school's blocks," they're "your blocks." They make their own rules and their curriculum ideas always top mine. When I bring in something of my own that I want them to take care of, like my childhood Matchbox cars, I call them "mine." That said, it's easy for a teacher to become something of a benevolent dictator, and I think the adults in children's lives too often boss them around and say things like, "Because I said so!" I want to be that adult for whom that isn't true.

I start right away. During the first week the 2-year-olds are in class I always have our toy farm animals out so that I can pick up the pig and say, "Moo!" Even the ones who don't yet have the courage to correct me, know I'm making a mistake. There's always one kid, however, who will correct me aloud, and we make a game of it, demonstrating to the other kids how it's done. As they get older I try to trick them, but most of them are always on their toes, listening carefully to make sure Teacher Tom isn't pulling a fast one.

By the time they're ready for kindergarden, they even pounce on me when I tell them things that are true, which means I have to prove it to them. For instance, when I tell the kids we're going to melt metal (a piece of lead) they almost yell at me that it's impossible, so I have to show them. This is how I think we should all react with those in "authority" tell us things that don't sound true. It's a basic tenant of democracy! =)

Jackie said...

Hi Teacher Tom,
I am new to your blog and love it! This is a fun, great post, and I will be using some new applications for band-aids in our house soon!

Shar Dean said...

A fab post. Got me thinking, gave me some fresh ideas and a good laugh. Thanks :)

(V.Kerr) School Time Adventures said...

Teacher Tom it's really refreshing to hear your approach with the little ones. I am going to be teaching a small preschool class out of my home this fall and am super excited about it! (I will have my son River and 3 or 5 other kids.) I have worked with adolescents where I have a lot of fun with them, but I am never quite sure if I have their respect. I know preschoolers are a whole new group so I enjoyed reading this post about your view of teacher "authority".
Thanks,
Vanessa

Deb said...

Thanks for the reminder. I'm used to working with teenagers and getting them to question, I'm not sure what I'm doing with my own kids. I know that we explicitly question things, but I don't think I'm doing anything implicitly like this. They're great ideas.

Ms. Erin's HeartRoom said...

I heart this!

MOM #1 said...

So CUTE! Those poor baby doll look like they've been playing rugby, LOL.

Launa Hall said...

Awesome. Love the lesson, love the babies.

SquiggleMum said...

Children just relish the opportunity to be "teachers" themselves! It is a wise educator who gives them this chance often.

onesunflower said...

Bandaids are my favorite gift to preschoolers!

pamela Wallberg said...

We moved to ice packs, semi-successfully. Ice Packs from the fridge are now very very popular...but some kids need both an ice pack AND a bandaid now...

Lily said...

The original post about bandaids was lovely and interesting but your where you followed it with the comment about the nature of authority in relation to preschoolers is where my interest is really insightful. If only all children could get this interaction regularly in life. Then the politicians of the future would be up on their toes. You could never oppress a generation who understand the nature of authority so well.

martha brown said...

This is a great story -- I'm going to teach my students how to put on a bandaid :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Technorati Profile