The Day I (Almost) Had a Class Pet

You know when your cat brings you a “present” and you just stand there because you have no idea how to react to it? That happened to me today. Except the “cat” was my student. And this story actually has a happy ending.

I walked into class today and one of my students shouted, “Janine, he has a bird!”

“Oh, I have a bird too,” I said absentmindedly, setting my laptop on the desk and plugging in the projector.

“No, Janine – he has a bird in the classroom!”

I looked up from my desk and saw half of the boys crowded in the back of the room, bending toward one of their classmates who held out his hands.

It’s the first class of the day. It’s too early for this.

“Do you have a bird?” I asked.

“Yes, Teacher, yes!” they chanted.

The student in the front looked worried. “I think he may have killed it.”

Oh no. This can’t be good. I hurried to the back of the room, my students stepping back as I approached the boy holding the bird. It was a little sparrow that looked frightened out of its wits. I pet the bird’s tiny head.

“It just blinked. It’ll be okay,” I assured them. “Why did you bring a bird here?”

“It came inside and couldn’t get out. I caught it,” said the student proudly, his fingers dangerously close to that tiny throat.

“We have to let it outside,” I said. Before you actually DO kill it!

“Okay!” The student with the bird hurried out of the classroom, swinging his arms at his sides as he walked.

“Don’t do that! You’ll hurt it!” I said, rushing out of the classroom just as the bell rang.

The student saw Mr. Hong in the hallway and explained how he found the bird. Mr. Hong laughed, took the tiny bird from the student, and placed the poor thing in my hands. Mr. Hong and two more students covered my shivering charge with their own hands as we started walking toward the door. The bird stopped struggling, resigned to being handled.

As soon as we reached the bright sunshine, we opened our hands. The little bird sat in my hand for a few seconds, looking at me as if it didn’t know what to do next. Then it flew away. Thankfully, it was not injured and landed in a nearby tree.

I walked back into the English hallway. My co-teacher poked her head out of the classroom, as if to say, “Where were you?!”

That’s one way to start a Thursday morning, I thought as I settled back in the classroom. For five minutes, we had a class pet.


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