Class Pets encourage classroom etiquette

Shannon Taylor Prep with Deborah Gray and Sam Boby
Shannon Taylor Prep with Deborah Gray and Sam Boby

GLENEAGLE State School Prep Teacher Shannon Taylor introduced class pet goldfish, Avocado and Orange, to her class this year on the first day of school to encourage classroom etiquette. 

Shannon has been a teacher for ten years and has been with Gleneagle State School coming up to two years. 

She has worked with children who have had class pets and those who have not and has noticed the effect of having pets throughout the years. 

“I like having classroom pets because I feel it gives students responsibility about nurturing something that is living,” Shannon said. 

“Not all students have pets at home so it’s nice that they can have that experience too at school – those that do, they learn those things they need to do to take care of them.”

Shannon tends to use the classroom pets as a subtle but effective strategy for noise indication and emotional regulation. 

“When our voice levels are seemingly higher than the expectation of where they should be, I just remind the students that we’re scaring Avocado and Orange and that they’ve hidden and we need to remember to bring our voices down so we can see them again,” she said. 

“It helps with mindfulness, and you can teach them breathing strategies – just watching the fish, therapeutic sounds and bubbles of the filter helps them take their mind off why they were upset.” 

The fish are also used as a gentle distraction for transitioning children into the classroom who may have struggled in the morning or aren’t particularly wanting to be at school. 

“It provides students with a calming focal point and it’s a subtle way of encouraging students to come into the classroom gently,” Shannon said. 

Shannon believes the students engage with the class pets effectively and enjoy their company around school grounds. 

“It gives them ownership of their classroom, more of that homey environment – they’re connected to this space more,” she said. 

“I felt like it was a really sweet way of teaching and reinforcing being caring, kind, nurturing, and how that looks and felt, because they needed it.”

Shannon loves taking care of Avocado and Orange and is pleased to teach her class kindness and nurturing at a young age. 

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