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luv2teach2017 luv2teach2017 is offline
 
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luv2teach2017
 
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Classroom Pets
Old 10-07-2018, 07:58 AM
 
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I'd like to hear from others on this subject. I don't mean pets as in "favorite students." I mean animals being kept as pets in the classroom.

Don't get me wrong. I am an animal lover from way back and have always had pets at home. In fact, when I was a kid, my 4th grade class had a pet guinea pig named "Squeaky." The students would take turns bringing him home for the weekend. My family enjoyed Squeaky so much that we got our own pet guinea pigs.

But as a guest teacher, I've found classroom pets can be very problematic, especially when the regular teacher is out for several days. Take for example, the 1st grade class I subbed a couple of days for. The teacher had been out for a week due to illness, with a few different guest teachers filling in. There was no lesson plan, and things were running amok. But the worst part was that there was a large pet water turtle that I hadn't even noticed till my 2nd day.

The turtle was languishing in an overly small aquarium full of filthy water. The kids kept pouring turtle food into the water, which made it even murkier. The turtle had a platform to climb on, but it had collapsed, so the turtle couldn't even get out of the dirty water. I was so overloaded by the task of handling the class that I forgot about the animal until I got home. I assumed the regular teacher was returning the following day, but it really bothered me that this poor creature was left to suffer.

Just recently, I was asked to sub a few days for a 4th/5th grade class due to a teacher's extended illness. Again, no lesson plan. Turns out they had a pet gecko in the classroom, and one of the girls (a major drama queen) was very distracted, fussing with it and freaking out because it had run out of food (live crickets). When I finally had a break, I checked out the situation and discovered that not only was there no food, but the gecko had run out of water as well! It was kept in a small empty aquarium with only a small hollow log to hide under. The regular teacher had not taken measures to ensure the pet was taken care of in her absence.

I spent my break chasing down someone who could go buy the needed live crickets. As soon as the crickets arrived, the drama queen impulsively grabbed the container and starting filling the aquarium with them. I had to do damage control by pulling out crickets and refilled the water because some crickets had fallen into it.

Now I didn't know anything about geckos, but I was concerned about overfeeding it because that's usually not good for any animal. But I couldn't reason with this girl. She was obsessing over this and out of control. It was becoming a major distraction that I really didn't need. I had a class to teach!

There was a 4-day break starting the next day, and the gecko had no one to feed it during that time, so I just let it go. At the end of the day, the student assured me that her mother would call the teacher about picking up the gecko. Hopefully, that took place, but honestly, I had to wash my hands of it. It had become nothing but a headache.

When I got home, I read up on geckos. Turns out that live crickets should never be left with the gecko for longer than a few minutes as crickets will chew on and wound the gecko. Geckos also need a number of other accommodations (such as a heat lamp or pad and different types of "hides") that this one was not provided with. There also should have been a container of meal worms that could have been used for emergency food. Teaching kids to be respectful and responsible towards other living things is great. But modeling negligence and neglect of an animal is simply wrong!

I have encountered several other classroom pets (rabbits, fish, silk worms, butterflies, etc.), but if you ask me, the only practical pet is a fish because it is the least messy and requires the least maintenance. As far as the gecko and large water turtle are concerned...all I can say is "What were they thinking?????"

I'd love to hear from you. What do you think about pets in the classroom?


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Pets
Old 10-07-2018, 08:31 AM
 
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I have had a gecko in the past and now have a bearded dragon. I try to have a designated adult that will take care of the pets if needed. That being said, geckos and bearded dragons are opportunistic eaters. Meaning, if there is food, they will eat it. If there isnít food, they will use the stored fat. So going a few days or even a week without food is okay.

I always have dry food available for my bearded dragon. Live food (crickets, super worms, etc) is more of a treat. Yes, fresh water should be provided. My night time custodian and our first grade assistant check on this for me if Iím gone. I always try to put this in my lesson plans.

I canít believe there was no heat lamp. I lost a gecko once because the lamp burnt out over a long weekend. It surprises me that the gecko was alive without a heat lamp.
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Old 10-07-2018, 09:12 AM
 
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Thanks for the info.

It was a hot mess, and I was frustrated that the teacher hadn't left any instructions or designated another adult to care for the animal. But in my experience, this is often the case when it comes to class pets.

As a guest teacher, it's really troubling having to deal with a neglected class pet on top of everything else!

Last edited by luv2teach2017; 10-07-2018 at 11:52 AM..
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Agree
Old 10-07-2018, 01:02 PM
 
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I do not expect a substitute to care for pets on top of caring for the wild animals that make up my class
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Old 10-07-2018, 01:06 PM
 
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I think pets in the classroom are wonderful. I do not think there should be "class pets." It should be a teacher's pet that he/she chooses to keep in the classroom. "Class pets" tend to be neglected because the teacher got it because it's something cool for the class. A teacher's pet that stays in the classroom gets more care the way an animal should.

I would never expect a substitute to do the care and feeding of my pet. If I were going to be gone just one day, I'd ask a trusted coworker (or *maybe* a student if one was particularly responsible). If I were going to be gone an extended period, I'd take the pet home the way I would over a long weekend or holiday.

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But modeling negligence and neglect of an animal is simply wrong!
I agree with you completely, and it's one of the things that frustrates me about Petco's pet grant. There's no vetting of teachers who will do a good job and who will just get a live decoration for the classroom.


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Old 10-08-2018, 11:05 AM
 
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Thankfully I've only ever encountered fish, ones that looked well taken care of. In fact one teacher always leave me plans that include a heading of "FISH". lol. She lets me know whose turn it is to feed the fish, how many students are allowed to be looking at it at one time, etc.
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Old 10-08-2018, 03:58 PM
 
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I subbed once in a class that had a pet guinea pig. At the time I had no experience with guinea pigs and was at the mercy of the kids concerning it's care. I think k it was afraid of the kids, or just didn't want to be bothered by them, because it kept running into it's hut every time a student approached. One child got bit, which was traumatizing to me, not sure if I would get into trouble. I was also worried whether the guinea pig would be hungry over the weekend.

Another teacher I subbed for had a pet chinchilla in his classroom. He was very proactive about it's care, and transported it to and from school each Friday and Monday, and was careful to bring it home if there was any hint he might me out or that schools might close for inclement weather he had a very nice, well stocked cage in his classroom so that the chinchilla could last a couple days on its own should something happen.

Personally I think class pets can cause stress for a sub, so should be able to survive comfortably in the event the teacher could not be there. The teacher should mention in sub plans what needs have been met, or need to be met so that the sub doesn't worry.
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Old 10-09-2018, 09:43 AM
 
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Here is my animal story.

In the late 1990's, I had just started subbing (these were the days before Aesop) and wasn't working much due to being a new sub I accepted an afternoon in fifth grade. I figured half a day's pay was better than nothing.

I was given directions to the wrong school. At the wrong school I asked that they call the right school and tell them I was on my way. I was given directions to the right school and off I went (about five miles away on the other side of the road).

When I arrived at the school I discovered the first school hadn't called and the class was already in the room for recess. I go to the room and find the class in chaos. Students had taken the classroom animals out (this was a science classroom) and were racing them in mazes they had built out of books.

First line on the lesson plans stated "Do not allow students to play with the animals!" I set about getting the students to return the animals back to their homes, the room cleaned up, and class calmed down. Once this had begun I turned my attention to the boy crying in the hall outside the classroom door.

As I attempted to understand what he was saying in between tears another teacher burst forth from adjacent classroom and said rather firmly "I don't know where you think you are but we don't allow children to cry in the halls of XYZ elementary."

Long story short, the student had worn his Steelers starter jacket to school without his mother writing his name inside it. Of course it was "stolen" and his parents were going to "beat" him. I explained that whoever had stolen the jacket was still at school; he reluctantly agreed to go to the office. A short time later he returned with his jacket. It seems he had worn it to lunch and taken it off.

This may be the first school I was banned from as I never had another job there despite many days at the other school.

Moral of the story, plan on arriving early and expect the unexpected.
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Old 10-12-2018, 04:49 PM
 
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This is all very true and the reason why I have really resisting getting a class pet, even though the other teachers on my grade level have them (which I kid you not was seen as a major inequity by some kids and parents who basically said it wasn't fair that we didn't have a class pet when "everyone" else did. Ugh!

I caved this year. We do a unit on ecosystems so I tied in fresh water ecosystems and got some fish and an aquarium with some live plants and some live bacteria to get "keep our ecosystem balanced". So far even fish seem like a big responsibility to me. I was on break last week and, even with an automatic feeder I felt like I had to go in and check on them on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to make sure that that everything was working. Next week I will have to stay late on Friday night so I can vacuum the waste out of the gravel and do a partial water change. I had to come up with an absence plan with my class neighbor so we will take care of each other animals if we are out sick for more than a day. Definitely not just moving decor at all.

I Think I will give the fish away to families who are willing to keep them at the end of the year so I dont have to worry about them over the summer and just start with new fish again next year. Its way to hard to have class pets that cant easily be taken home when school is out or if you arent coming in.
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