"Caps! Caps for sale. 50 cents a cap..." Well, thank you! I most certainly would like to try on the "Vacation" hat, or "Date" hat, or "Gardening" hat. Wait...those hats aren't for sale? Okay, how about an "I Am Beautiful and Powerful" hat? No?... okay, maybe a "Financially Independent" hat. Those are rare, I know, but I would like to feel what its like! Those are sold out? Can I put one on hold??
Oh the many hats...
When children in my classroom wear hats (and they have the right to do so ;0) ), it's because they are role-playing. They aren't just wearing a hat for their pretend birthday party just to look fancy; they are acting out their knowledge of the person who would be wearing the hat. They put on a hat and they are pretending in full force to be a: police officer, ship captain, chef, scientist, artist, college student, sister, mommy or daddy. What they don't quite get yet (and how lucky they are) is that they may be wearing all of these hats at once when they are an adult and the hats they want to put on are not as available as they once were in their preschool classrooms.
We are all balancing hats on our heads like the "Caps for Sale" guy and not only balancing them while we walk, but switching the order of them quite frequently. In fact, I think I might have a walk in closet full of "hats", don't you?
This struck me the other day as I was leaving school when one of my colleagues said, "Thank you for all you do Britt...Oh the many hats of Brittany Courchesne." And I cherished her appreciation and giggled but then thought, ‘Heck yeah we wear a lot of hats in this building!” In my school we all support each other- that particular afternoon I had been covering for one of the teachers, so I was “me” in the morning and “her” in the afternoon. No big deal. Just add it to the other hats I was wearing on my head: Wife, colleague, daughter, sister, friend, learner, reader, music lover, dog adorer, and neighbor. The teacher hat is a very important hat that I wear so let me unpack it a little bit.
So when I wear my teacher hat, it is like a bottomless Mary Poppins hand purse hat. There are hats within the hats (and I am adding -er to many words that don't typically use them. Its okay. Just go with it. And you know what? As you read this I think you should mentally begin hearing a drumroll. Do you hear it? Okay. Read on.) Britt's Preschool Mary Poppins Preschool Teacher hats include: Say Goodbye to Families Transitioner, Nose Wiper, Coplayer/coconstructor, Modeler, Joke Teller, Problem Solver, word dictator, group time facilitator, singer, reader, pretender, waiting list writer and facilitator, activity setter-upper, bathroom helper, pants buttoner, hand-washer reminder, re-set up and organize activity, assessment documenter, photographer, co-teacher collaborator and communicator, tear wiper, clean up transition reminder, fun fact sharer, and check in with families and tell them a fun story communicator. Those are many hats I wear in a few hours at school. And if you are a teacher reading this, you know exactly what I mean.
And I am forgetting some. They are all super fancy and exciting, right?! Teachers do this all. the. time. The number one comment I get from college students is that they "didn't realize how much multitasking is required to make a classroom run smoothly." And when I am with children I juggle, reorganize, and trade hats from moment to moment with ease (on many days). I reach down into the Mary Poppins Teacher Hat and grab at ones I haven’t used in a while, or grab a book in there to learn about a new one. These “hats” are the hats that exist in the blank spaces between my actual job description. And I think "Mind Reader" is in there as well.
My favorite hat? Well, within the Mary Poppins Teacher Hat is a "Connect-the-dots" hat. If you are not familiar with the "Connect the dots" hat, understand that it is one of my gifts as a teacher and one of my favorite hats to wear. This is the hat that looks and feels like when a child gives you a sentence that to everyone else does not make sense what-so-ever but because you know the child and remember every little detail about them you help them connect the dots in the conversation to others get to have the "Oh, now I know what you are talking about" moment and get to participate in the conversation.
Sort of like last week when a child came in with their mom and handed me a pile of bubble wrap and said, "Bubbles pop outside on sunny days." Oh! Let me put on the "Connect the dots" hat...The bubbles, she is holding bubble wrap, we had bubble wrap outside recently, and it was on a sunny day, so she is thinking that we could use this bubble wrap from home and bring it outside to pop like we did last week! Yes! Now I am ready to respond to this child, "So, you brought in this bubble wrap from home and it reminded you of when we had the bubble wrap outside last week and we were popping it with the rollers. You are thinking we could use this bubble wrap outside?" Looking at me like, 'Yes, I just said that' she responded, "Of course! You silly Brittany." But then other children and her mother were invited into the conversation and were able to talk about our past experiences and whether or not we should bring other tools to try out on the bubble wrap. It’s sort of goes like that a lot working with children. It's a fun hat to wear.
Sometimes though, as Brittany the person, I want a different hat. I want to wear the Traveler hat. And the Good Wife hat. Sometimes, I want to exchange hats and get them to fit better like the "Good Friend" hat so I can catch up with all of my friends as much as I would like to and "Thoughtful Sister" hat so I can be supportive to my brothers. Occasionally, I want the "Invisibility" hat-we have all wanted that one, one time or another. And more often than others, the "Super Hero" Hat because, a super hero can balance all them and still look great doing it.
But, I as I wear the Blogger-Reflectionist hat I think, even as an adult, and even as a teacher, I still have the right to go hat shopping. We all do. The Mary Poppins Teacher Hat never really comes off because we are always thinking about our children, their families, and how we can serve them better. Hense the Blog about intentional teachers... but do take a moment to go through your closet and throw out ones that don't fit anymore. The "Im not good enough" and the "Comparison" hat both don't fit well or look good so don't even think about donating those. Take a moment to think about other hats that you own, ones that you put on a shelf (like the "Relaxing" hat) that could be taken out to wear for a while. And don't forget about the ones we want to buy. Some hats might be in your “Amazon” cart for a while but they are worth waiting for and dreaming about. The ones in my cart sound like, "Humanitarian" hat and "Inspiration" hat.
Brittany Courchesne is an early childhood educator, teacher mentor to teachers in training, public speaker, and blogger.