On the Floor with the Rabbit

One of my favorite learning moments came many years into my teaching. I had a class pet, Captain Jack, a California Angora short-haired rabbit. He was litter boxed trained thanks to my niece who raised rabbits. I had read that training rabbits was possible and a rabbit fit my “clean,” not stinky animal requirements. I wanted a class pet for the longest time, but didn’t want a stinky hamster, guinea pig, etc. So, a rabbit it was. He was named Capt. Jack, as all of her rabbits were named after the Pirates of the Caribbean.

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Capt. Jack joined us and became a beloved member of our classroom (and school.) Once he acclimated to the many predators- Ha! –  and felt safe, he hopped around the room checking out everyone and their backpacks! As I taught Biology, he was a great addition to class; which brought some great questions and discussion.

I had a few students bond with Capt. Jack more than others. In particular, I had one boy who in my class was very quiet and meek. He loved Capt. Jack and Capt. Jack loved him. He was the only one that could dress Capt. Jack in his festive outfits.

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One day I had five guests walk in my room to observe my class with my curriculum director. At this point in my career, this didn’t bother me at all. I had/have observers all the time. Well, in the moment I saw them come in I thought, “Oh, people.” The next moment, as I had a discussion on the characteristics of life with my learners, I had an uh-oh pass through my thoughts, “G is on the floor with the rabbit.” I wondered what my guests would think. I wondered if I cared. A few more moments into the discussion, I posed a question and guess who’s hand flew up from the floor. That’s right, G’s hand went up. I called on him and he added his viewpoint. I also noticed in that moment that two of the onlookers didn’t even know he was down there and started looking around the table to see where that voice had come from! Win!

Even if he hadn’t participated in that very moment, I knew then that learning doesn’t only take place in a desk while you are sitting upright. I think as educators anytime a guest comes into your room, you do a once-over and check to see “how things look.” What’s more important is the learner. I found out later that G had an emotional disorder. (I had not been privy to that info.) Least to say, I was shocked to find out that he had outbursts in other classes in which he cursed his teacher and classmates. I had a totally different kid in my class; which was thanks to Capt. Jack and G being allowed the freedom to move about the room and learn in the way that best fits him. In the next couple of years, G would return often to visit Capt. Jack. He quietly came in and left the same way. I believe he needed a moment or a “time out” in his day.

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20 Day Blogging Challenge To Get Me Started! Day 1: The Spirit of Lo

I have been wanting to start professionally blogging for some time. It, of course, gets shuffled to the back of the long line of things to do. A fellow teacher sent me this 20 Day Blogging Challenge designed by Kelly Hines. I am going to use this Blogging Challenge as a jumping off place for my personal blog on education.

I would like to share a book that I have used in class as a connection to genetics. The book, The Spirit of Lo, is a wonderful read and a true story written by Terry and Don Detrich. Terry and Don are Lauren’s or Lo’s parents. Lo has cystic fibrosis. You will definitely need a box of tissues as you read this book. The book was a great addition to the science classroom as it gave a face to a genetic disorder discussed in class from the science viewpoint. Now, students are learning about genetics, but they are getting a real vicarious experience from the viewpoint of the parents, Lo’s sister and Lo. What is also really neat about the book, is it is written when Lo was my student’s age, 13-14. They can directly relate to her experiences. The book also does a wonderful job of defining the cause of cystic fibrosis and the related symptoms and toll it takes in the body and family. I believe any activity  in English with their freshman reading list can be done with the nonfiction book, The Spirit of Lo. A social connection can be made about the cost insurance and the red tape that families deal with to navigate medical costs. In addition, a service learning connection can be made as Lo herself is a wonderful fundraiser for cystic fibrosis from a young age. The sky is the limit with this book and the relative connections the classroom can make to the world in which we live.