Our classroom was blessed with an experience which gave me a chance to witness a natural event of respect for life and nature.
My intermediate age class was quietly working on reading seatwork when a bird crashed into our window. Immediately everyone froze in concern while I talked softly, opened the window, and gently covered it with tissue to keep it warm as it lay by a bush. (We all suspected in our hearts that it was injured unto death but weren’t ready to discuss that yet.)
Someone asked if we could bring it inside and I answered that it might add fear to the pain it already had since nature was the place where it felt safest. This sideyard of our small private school was a haven of nature.
Although we went on with our work, soft comments began to emerge out of even the toughest of kids. It was decided among the students to tell the younger children gently at lunch.
This was done ever-so-carefully and one child came to me and requested that I uncover completely the (now dead) bird so all the students could see “how really beautiful” it was as they made their way in the school building after lunching outside at the picnic tables.
They chose, completely on their own, to return from lunch, two by two. They paused by the bird, admired its beauty, expressed grief about the sad happening, and quietly went to their daily spelling assignment.
Toward the end of this natural “procession” someone noticed that our class had an odd number and one child would be left at the end. Another child moaned, “But he’d have to be alone when he goes to see the bird!”
I quickly volunteered to be his partner, and all was well.
During spelling many still-soft comments were made about the pretty feathers, unusual crest and fine coloring. One girl observed that it was probably lucky it didn’t have to suffer very long.
The next day over half of the students showed up with books, pictures, or other information about the bird. They had done their own research without being asked. So had I. (And this was before the internet so it took some real work!)
We discovered it was a Cedar Waxwing (I had brought a book with a picture and we all recognized it.)
My heart as a teacher was full of pride in these students as they had shown – without great prompting – such a touching approach to the situation.
We all realized that this week had been comprised of both sadness and growth, but most of all, respect.
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission from author for use online or in print.