Sure enough, there was a cat sprawled out on the playground asphalt with kids running all around. I looked closer, not really believing what I was seeing, when the cat lifted its head and twitched its tail. I said, "Oh my gosh! That is NOT a dead cat! THAT cat wants to be petted!" My whole class rushed toward the windows and we wondered aloud why a cat was sleeping on the playground.
Then we had this conversation:
Me: If I was a cat, I wouldn't be laying down with all those first graders running around!
Student #1: Maybe you should just take the cat home with you. You like cats.
Me: I am not going to take someone's cat. It probably lives in one of the houses next to the school. Please make sure you treat it kindly when you are outside. We treat all creatures kindly.
Student #2: Yeah, teacher. Maybe the cat just wants to be here because he wants to learn. If we are mean to him, he will go away.
Student #3: One time a cat came into our kitchen. My mom left the door open and a cat walked in. My mom yelled and it ran back outside.
Me: A cat just walked into your kitchen?? That is funny!
Student #2: What if the cat walks into our classroom?? Teacher!! What if he follows us inside??
Me: Oh, that would be so fun!...but we are not bringing a cat into our classroom! So don't get any ideas! (Laughter)
This is one of the reasons that I love being a teacher! I love talking to my students and hearing what they think about. Maybe to some people, this would not be an interesting enough story to be worthy of a blog post. But to me, it represented a simple but precious moment when I got to just "be" with my class.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the pressures of standards and testing that we forget about the little people we spend time with everyday. They need these simple, relaxed moments too, to bond with their teacher and classmates. These small moments can combine together to create purpose in our working lives. Yes, my responsibility to teach students is one I take very seriously, but sometimes you just have to stop to see the "dead" cat.
How do you connect to your students? Share your stories here!