Keep in mind that I am highly allergic to animals. I cannot be around most animals that have some kind of hair or dander because I turn in to a sniveling, miserable, ugly creature. If rabbits are near me, my eyes swell totally shut and I cannot breathe.
This means that I have to get some kind of class pet that I am not allergic to and doesn’t turn me into the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I have tried a fish tank with fresh water fish and a salt water tank too. The salt water tank cost too much money and the fresh water tank was pretty boring. After that I got a small turtle that I got at the flea market. My students enjoyed that but no one wanted to take care of him during holidays so he was finally given to a friend who had an outside pond.
Finally I decided that I wanted an iguana. They didn’t shed and they looked like they would be a fun pet for the class. I even see comic strip characters with iguanas! After I decided this, I started to make a list of all the items we would need for this class pet. My husband was worried and kept begging me to do more research before I bought anything like this and I promised him that I would.
When I discussed it with my class, one of my students had an iguana that he was willing to give as a class pet during the school year and take home for the summer and holidays. What a perfect arrangement! What more could I ask for?
The day I decide to sit down and do some in depth research, my student, T. decides to bring in his pet for a trial day. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem because I would keep it in my portable for the day and he would pick it up at the end of the day. T. took out the iguana for me to hold and pet and it seemed friendly enough. So, after T. goes to another class, I take out the iguana to hold but it turns out a lot differently. This iguana doesn’t want to be held by me and takes off out of the cage away from me. I prayed that no one would walk into my portable so that he could escape into the wild. Just imagine me chasing it around the room, needing to grab it but afraid of it at the same time. What if it bit me? About 30 minutes later, right before I hyperventilate, I finally get him back in his cage.
With 20 minutes left in my planning period, I get on the internet to do my research. Then I find out how big these guys get and how aggressive they can be towards females during certain times of the month! They get huge and you have to keep buy larger and larger tanks/cages for them. Not only do they become humongous but they live a very long time. Oh my gosh! What was I thinking?!
Needless to say, I had to rethink my plan. No, not rethink, it was more like scrub the mission. There would be no iguana for my class. When I broke the news to my class, no one seemed shocked or disappointed other than me. I wonder if my class was a lot smarter than I was?
So I learned a valuable lesson. I need to discuss things with my class and have them help in the decision making. This would have been a great opportunity for them to practice the decision making process as well as showing knowledge that they have. As I constantly remind myself, the students have a great deal of knowledge that they can give me if I would only take advantage of it.
Have you ever had a class pet? Was it a good experience or a terrible one? Please share so others can learn from you.
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'Steampunk Beholder Miniature robot sculpture - Oxford Steampunk Exhibition'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/46859071@N00/3524826318 by: Daniel Proulx