education

Where in the world is Rachel? My Research Progress

Courtesy Google Images

Courtesy Google Images

I’d like a map, please.

At this stage in my research, I have completed the following:

  • Completed two in-person interviews
  • Completed two online interviews
  • Received two extra e-mails from teachers with tattoos stating their experience
  • Attended the Skindustry Expo in Allentown, PA
  • Read articles pertaining to tattoos
  • Researched videos that pertain to tattoos (emphasis on YouTube)
  • Have made arrangements to meet with a tattoo artist at a local parlor and have him walk me through a routine visit

After pooling responses from both the in-person and online interviews, one thing is clear: I would like a map, please.

After speaking with an administrator and a teacher for my in-person interviews and corresponding with two teachers with tattoos via e-mail, I have noticed a pattern: tattoos are not Public Enemy number 1. The teachers commented on how they have never had a bad experience with having a tattoo, and one teacher went as far as explaining how she uses having a tattoo as a learning experience for her students.

Thus, I am thinking about putting a positive spin on my article on tattoos in education. Before, I planned on fighting for the idea that having a tattoo doesn’t make one less capable. Yet, it seems a lot of people are already there. So, I will jump ahead with that mentality and comment on just how positive tattoos can be in education.

I already have quotes from people who are okay with teachers having tattoos. Now, I am working towards getting a balanced article by getting quotes from people who are adamantly against tattoos (perhaps in general, or perhaps strictly on teachers).

I am feeling somewhat apprehensive about the direction of my article. All of the research is spinning before me like a whirlpool, and it is overwhelming. I would love thoughts and feedback on my plan for discussing the positives of tattoos in education. Thanks for your help!

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Post Interview Reflection: In-Person

As a teacher, I know that I can plan the best lesson possible. I can plan a lesson with all the bells and whistles. I can plan a lesson with frills and thrills and anything in-between. And the lesson can fall flat on its face.

I expected the interview to flow freely. I thought that once we started the conversation, ideas would come spewing out and thoughts would zoom around the room. Looking back, I had grandeurs plans about the amount of information I would acquire.

It was not that the interview was bad, or even disappointing. When I walked in the room, my colleague was in the middle of grading homework. This grading continued throughout the entire interview, so right away I felt that I was intruding on her time. Right off the bat, I felt somewhat uncomfortable. Even though we have had thousands of conversations in the past while she was grading homework, this time it felt different. I expected us to sit down together and have a conversation, a sharing of thoughts and ideas.

I respected that fact that we both have numerous assignments to grade, so I did not take it personally. After all, contrary to what the youth of America thinks, teachers do not, in fact, live in their classrooms and actually do have lives of their own. So, when I saw her grading, I did not take it in the least bit personal. I did not want to ask her to stop grading and come and sit with me because, after all, she was doing me a favor by allowing me to interview her. I attributed her grading during the interview to how busy teachers’ lives are and how much we need every ounce of free time to push through the heavy workload that, contrary to what several adults of America think, is not that much.

Despite the grading, I learned several things from the interview. First, I learned the significance of Krista’s double sleeves: one arm represents a nature inspired theme, and the other arm represents a contemporary Asian theme. When Krista did not further articulate this description, I did not press her, thinking that perhaps it would come up later in the interview. Thinking back to Postmodern Interviewing, I thought that once she felt more comfortable talking about her tattoos, she might share that information with me later on.

During the interview, I found that it was not turning out to be a back and forth conversation like I had planned. Rather, I opened with a question (“Tell me about your tattoos”) and got a very short answer and a long pause. A few students walked noisily by in the hallway, and this reminded me of an incident that had happened earlier in the day that I had wanted to tell her about. As I was approaching this interview with the reflexive dyadic interview in mind, I went ahead and shared my personal feelings (even though it was not on the topic of tattoos, it was still sharing nonetheless). After we exchanged thoughts on the issue, I went back to the topic of tattoos. (In order to maintain professionalism, I am not writing about the conversation we had.)

From knowing Krista as a colleague, I knew that when she first stated teaching, she kept her tattoos covered, the complete opposite of what she does now. I, therefore, asked her what prompted her to keep them covered then but not now? She responded, It was a personal thing. I liked to keep my personal and professional life separate, and keeping them covered was a way to do it. She continued to inform me that, at the time of keeping them covered, she did not yet have a full sleeve, and therefore the tattoos were more “manageable” to conceal since her sleeve was not as progressed as it is now. As her sleeve grew, she found it more difficult to hide. (I noted that today she was wearing a zip-up sweatshirt as opposed to her usual short-sleeve shirts. I was still able to see the bottom part of both sleeves by her wrist.)

I then asked her how parents tend to react to her double sleeves. She indicated that several parents give her compliments on them. She expressed that she has never received a “derogatory” comment about her tattoos and that the parents who are clearly alarmed by them tend to sit and stare but never say anything about them.

I then asked her how students react to them, and she said that typically one of two things happen: either the students are scared stiff about them and do not say anything, or her tattoos make her more accessible and relatable to students, as several of their parents have tattoos, as well. Krista indicated that administrators in the district have never given her a hard time about tattoos. We agreed that there was nothing in our contract under the dress code policy about hiding tattoos, and therefore it would be inappropriate to raise the issue.

At this time, the conversation hit a standstill, and I found myself, again, expressing teaching stories of the day to both break the silence and get the conversation going again.

We spoke briefly about how Disney workers are not allowed to cover their tattoos with a band-aid but must, instead, cover them with make-up. This reminded me of an article I had skimmed through the night before about a new military tattoo rule, and I asked her how she felt about it. She indicated that tattoos are “such a part of our culture” these days that she was surprised that the mindset (of both tattoos in the military and in the workforce) has not become more flexible with it. This prompted me to ask her what she would do if she ever had to interview for a job now that she has double sleeves. She responded that she would keep them covered and wait until she had the opportunity to ask questions and would inquire about what the company’s policy was about tattoos.

We chatted briefly about the age restriction of tattoos. While the legal age to go alone is 18, I told her that I had a student two years ago (he was around fourteen) with tattoos on his wrists, and she indicated that some students will go with their parents, who approve the tattoo.

I then asked her about her husband.  I knew that he had tattoos, but I was not sure how many or of what kind. She informed me that he has one full sleeve and a half sleeve (in the making). I then asked her how she got started with tattoos since she did not have any when they met. She took me though the order of her tattoo artists (three total, including one scary first tattoo artist) and how she found them. I learned that most people find tattoo artist through a friend recommendation or from asking a person they see with a tattoo that they admire.

Despite the fact that each question got a quick response, I am left with one question: Krista had indicated on an earlier day from a conversation that she enjoyed the process of getting a tattoo, pain and all. I want to know more about this idea of pain/pleasure during a tattoo. I am also left with questions for teachers who work in districts where tattoo revealing is forbidden. How do they feel about that? What preparations must they take in order to adhere to the regulations? For a teacher without a tattoo, would he or she consider getting a tattoo knowing that he/she would have to keep it covered for the majority of the day? Speaking with a parent of a student who had a teacher with tattoos would also help gain a different perspective on the issue.

Next, I am hoping to interview a teacher in a different district to get a fresh perspective on what they have to go through. Even if they are allowed to show their tattoos, they are still dealing with a different student/parent population, and it will be interesting to learn about how their tattoos are perceived.

In regard to what I might have done differently, the timing of the interview falls at the top of my list. Perhaps taking a period from the day was not the way to go. Instead, it may have been better if one day we had stayed after school. As we only have one common prep period (third period), there were no other periods during the day to do this. Plus, I did not want to take extra time away from her day, so I thought third period would be a good alternative. I think, perhaps, a period after the grading was done would have changed things. Or, perhaps, a day other than Friday, when most homework assignments are turned in, may have been a better choice. I think, too, that Krista’s personality is not one that jumps out with information. Though she has double sleeves, she can be shy and I think this contributed to the lack of flow, as well. While I tried to keep things flowing with my personal stories, perhaps I could have done things differently. Overall, I learned a lot about her thoughts on tattoos and am incredibly grateful for the time that she dedicated to me to conduct this interview.

 

Can you repeat tat? Preparation Post: In-Person Interview

Just a typical day! Courtesy Google Images

Just a typical day! Courtesy Google Images

Friday, third period, is typically a time when thoughts are flying across the room. “What standard do we need to cover? How long do we think that will take? What resources can we find for this?”

My grade level partner Krista and I meet during our prep period to collaboratively plan our eighth grade lessons for the following week. This week, however, we are ahead of the game and have already mapped out our game plan for tackling, and rocking, our test prep unit (gotta love the New Jersey ASK).

So, Krista has agreed to allow me to interview her about my topic of tattoos. Just like a typical planning period, tomorrow during third period, we are going to meet in one of our classrooms where we will share ideas and partake in a relaxing conversation, except this time, it will have nothing to do with the Common Core.

Krista has double sleeves that she sports every day. Yes, even in January. She has been a teacher for eighteen years and continues to commit herself everyday in the classroom so that student achievement occurs. And it does. Every time I walk by her room, her students are diligently working, many times with their heads bent over their work, furiously writing. I admire her as a teacher and have always appreciated the help she has given me, as I am “only” in my third year of teaching. (When I was a first year teacher, looking ahead to having three years of teaching experience seemed like the Garden of Eden.)

As an educator, I am interviewing Krista to gain her insight on tattoos in education. Since she has been in a district for quite some time where teachers are allowed to expose tattoos, I am anticipating a great deal of information in this area and look forward to hearing what her experience has been like. While there are other teachers in the district with tattoos, I am interviewing Krista in particular since her tattoos are exceedingly noticeable.

In regard to Postmodern Interviewing, I will be approaching this interview with the reflexive dyadic interview method in mind. One of the initial findings that drew me to this approach was the fact that the “interviewer typically shares personal experience” (162). Treating this interview like a conversation, I plan on articulating and sharing just as much with Krista as she shares with me. I also plan to focus on the “communicative process of the interview” (162). Even though Krista and I have shared many conversations thus far, I have never gone back to my room to analyze the process by which we spoke. This focused evaluating will be a new experience for me and one to which I am looking forward since it will be quite different from other conversation experiences.

Thus, “the final product includes the cognitive and emotional reflections of the researcher” (162). After the interview, I anticipate that I will scrutinize the thoughts and ideas shared as well as the emotional implications divulged during the interview process. This is an essential component of reflexive dyadic interviewing because it requires me to think of the topic both in terms of how the information was told, but also in terms of how I internalized it. Several readings suggest that information that the researcher chooses to include in various writings reveals a larger picture of the interviewer herself, so during the reflection process, I will discover more about myself as a person based on how I see the information and what I choose to include.

The main topics that I wish to cover in the interview include:

  • Krista’s experience in the field of education bearing double sleeves
  • Reactions from parents and students when they notice her tattoos
  • What type of circumstances arise where she feels like she needs to cover her tattoos (both professionally and personally)
  • If she ever feels the need to defend her tattoos and how she goes about doing so

Is that spelled E-A-G-E-R or E-A-G-R-E? A look into the world of tattoos.

The classic risqué mermaid that ribbons when the muscle is flexed. The unique Chinese symbol etched on the forearm. The “Mom” surrounded by angel’s wings. Tattoos are no secret. They are a performance. A gripping story that the bearer endures and shares.

Tattoos have always intrigued me. On other people, they are awesome. The intricate detail that speaks volumes. The colors and outlines that mesh into a background transpiring time. They tell a story. A history. On me? There’s more of a chance of the Boston Red Sox offering their star player to the New York Yankees free of charge.

TLC has adopted shows such as LA Ink and Miami Ink. Spike sports Ink Master. A&E’s Inked and Tattoo Highway have blared out among television screens across the country. There is a pressing need and desire of the American public to experience, if only from a distance, the volume of what it means to secure a tattoo. Therefore, there is obviously more to tattoos than the embarrassing “Amber” ex-girlfriend tattoo strategically placed on the forearm that mocks regretful ex-boyfriends.

While I have seen quite a few of the many tattoo shows on television, I have never researched this topic. Like Oz, there is a man hiding behind the curtain of tattoos about whom I want to learn. His tricks, his flashy shows, and his subsequent humbling appearance.

I intend to write a feature article about tattoos. Once I begin researching, I will narrow down the topic. As of now, some of my ideas include the motivation behind tattoos or tattoos in the educational field. As a teacher, I am eager to interview teachers who don tattoos and to ask them about their experiences as such. In my district, teachers are able to flaunt their tattoos; in others, tattoos must remain hidden under layers of clothing. I intend to interview teachers from different districts in both the public and private sector to gain their insight and experiences in the professional field.

A feature article, unlike a work of fiction, will allow for wit, sarcasm, and the boiled down truth about tattoos to take place that may otherwise be lost in a short story or work of poetry. I intend to keep the same voice in which I have written this entry. However, once I begin the researching process, I may find that I need to revamp my genre, and I am open to change and reformation. Tattoos are universal, as there are several tattoo magazines and television shows, and this topic will have an appeal for a larger readership.

This research topic lends itself to several different archives. I plan on interviewing people with tattoos, especially teachers and administrators. As such, there is a teacher in my district who shows off her double sleeves every day. A friend of hers, however, in another district, is not allowed to show any ink. I would love to interview both of them to gain their perspective on this issue as well as other educations in the field.

I also plan on going into a tattoo parlor or tattoo parlors to interview the shopkeeper and tattoo artists. With any luck, while I am there, I can speak with someone getting a tattoo. It is my hope that these interviews will propel me into other realms of discovery about tattoos. In addition, several tattoo magazines exist, and I plan on leafing through them to gather more knowledge about the world of tattoos. This is an open topic that will allow for me to engage in several types of research archives, and these magazines will offer several angles to pursue.

Researching tattoos will be no easy task. Never have I set foot into a tattoo parlor, and I imagine the experience might be something like that of a western—the out-of-towner walks through the saloon doors to find the bar music immediately stopping with heads turning to inspect the unfamiliar face. It will require me to speak to people with deep stories and heartache for each tattoo. While I will attempt to maintain the I-belong-here-face, I will respect the environment and continue to gain insight into an extraordinary atmosphere.

The following are publications that would consider such a work. To begin, Rethinking Schools is a magazine that circulates in all 50 states as well as Canada and internationally. The magazine promotes social justice in the educational field. While several articles are committed to issues of race, tattoos are an intricate part of the social field that would attract readers to the sense of belonging. In addition, Ink Fashion is a magazine that sports the latest trends in tattoos. Huffington Post is a publication that values articles on entertainment. What better place to establish an article about tattoos? The Huffington Post has published several articles highlighting tattoos in entertainment (such as an RIP Brian Griffin tattoo),  and my article would be a good fit with a new twist.

I am eager to come away with a new understanding from this experience. Researching about tattoos will challenge my thinking and allow me to enter a domain quite unfamiliar to myself.