I have yard duty on Wednesday mornings & truly, it is one of my least favorite duties. Although I adore talking with my past & current students – singing our favorite songs, catching up & discussing current events – I stress for the last 10-15 minutes of the morning (my duty is from 8:00-8:30am). There are only two teachers on the yard & we have approximately 400 students on the playground for the last 10 minutes or so. I feel stretched too thin & always worry about what would happen if someone truly got hurt (aside from it taking me 1-5 minutes to notice & get there & call for help). This morning, I was put to the test.
As soon as we got out on the yard, I noticed a couple of boys hanging out underneath the play structure (climbing, slide, jungle gym type thing). These boys are the ones that I normally have to remind not to run or push, so I was pleased that they were being calm. I kept an eye on them while I chatted with a couple of my previous students (now fourth graders) & watched one of my girls run through her current cheering routines.
Approximately 5 minutes later, a panicked first grader came up to me with fear in his eyes. He was out of breath from booking it across the playground. “He’s… He’s… (pant pant) …hurt!” My heart skipped a beat. I asked him who was hurt as I started rushing toward the play structure (where he had been before). With tears in his voice, he swallowed manly & replied, “The… BIRD!”
Sure enough, as I got there, the group had grown. Respectfully, they had surrounded the injured animal but weren’t touching it while they waited for me to get there & decide what to do. I thought the bird had died (it was the wind ruffling its wings & they thought it was trying to fly), but its eye kept opening & closing and its foot moved slightly. I tried to use our emergency radio to call the office, but it didn’t work, so I used my cell phone.
I explained the situation to our school secretary & told her the bird was injured and that I wasn’t sure of the animal rescue number to call. She said she’d take care of it & have our school custodian come to get the bird so the kids didn’t touch it, etc. The custodian came out with a broom and dirt-covered dustpan. We all felt that was an inappropriate way to pick up the bird (our group was about 20 strong at this time). I asked if she was calling the animal rescue or if the secretary was, and she winked at me. Confused, I quirked my eyebrow.
As she scooped the bird into her dustpan & walked away, I heard her tell the kids she was going to let it lie in the sun in the dumpster so it could wake up & fly away. Stunned at her callous behavior, not one student followed her. We all just stood, mouths agape, at her extremely transparent lie.
The tearful first grader (not yet 6 years old) turned to me and said scathingly, “I hope she doesn’t think we believe her. That was terrible.” I could only agree. Not even we were that naive.