No, not the favorite student. This teacher’s pet is a real pet!
I’ve mentioned in the last couple of posts that I now have a small ten gallon fish tank in my classroom (currently home to 5 mollies and a sucker fish). We will be giving them names based on scientists later this week. I’d like to tell you a little bit more about it.
First of all, I checked with my school’s principal and our district’s pet policy before making any decisions. Do that first.
Then, I applied for a grant through Pets in the Classroom. This easy-to-navigate website shows you which pets are allowed and how to fill out the application. This grant is to help secondary teachers bring animals into the classroom! And it is SO EASY!
Now, I am a science teacher so I think the idea of having “life” in my classroom is crucial: animals, plants…. that’s what it’s all about! I remember my 7th grade teacher having a pet ferret and I just thought he was the coolest, ever. So why couldn’t other subject areas have pets?
Basically, if you apply for the grant and you are a secondary teacher… you get the grant. They email to let you know you have been approved and then send you coupons through snail mail. You do have to predetermine which pet store to use because they send you store and brand specific coupons. I chose Pet Supermarket because it is closest to my house, but just about every major pet retailer was listed. The coupons were sent quickly.
Quick, easy to understand process
Coupons arrive quickly
Coupons help you purchase necessary supplies: I was able to get (an almost $90) fish tank, food, water conditioner and gravel for free.
It was simple to cash in the coupons at the store
Brands allowed are major brands and easy to locate
You are also eligible for smaller, maintenance rewards (coupons, I imagine) in following years.
Since I have some knowledge of aquarium maintenance, I was bummed that I couldn’t choose brands (only allowed fish flakes when I would prefer pellets)
Does not include live fish
Did not include any reimbursement or reward for extras: decor (um, my Spongebob pineapple was a necessity, how would they not know that??), cleaning supplies (gravel washer, siphon, bubbler, etc)
Short expiration date, I only had about a week to make my purchases
The end result?
An aquarium full of life. I love the sound of the aquarium in the rare event of a quiet classroom. Kids have never been more excited to come to my room, they want to see the fish before the bell rings. It is something positive and calming. How can you go wrong? Fish are great as incentives-
“Miss, can I go look at the fish?”
“Have you finished your assignment? No? Better get finished so you can see the fish before you leave!”
“Who’s going to feed the fish?” “How are we going to name the fish?”
“Well, I’ll be watching behavior to see who is responsible enough…”
I call this #teacherwins
In the future, I would like to have a larger salt water tank, maybe that students work on. Or a guinea pig, just because I think they’re cute. I wanted to start small and not overwhelm myself (which was smart, go me!) but I can see this project building over the next couple of years. Really, I just want to bring my dogs!
If you are a secondary teacher considering a pet in the classroom- do it! Why not? Be sure you follow any school policies, but when you are ready, check out Pets in the Classroom for some financial support!
Now, as long as those fish are still alive in the morning….
Any memorable pets from your classrooms? Share in the comments!