For the past month or so, my class has been observing the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly. We had two caterpillars left. We watched as they went from caterpillar to chrysalis. My students were excited about them emerging as beautiful butterflies.
Last week, one of the butterflies emerged, but something was horribly wrong. Instead of flitting about in the butterfly habitat, it was laying motionless on the soil of my potted milkweed plant. The students were concerned, and I was concerned, too. I really believed the butterfly to be dead. I tried explaining to the students that this was all a part of the life cycle and that this often happens in nature. My students seemed okay with that, and they went on about their business. At the end of the day, I noticed the butterfly was not dead. It was moving around, but one of its wings had not fully opened. It was still crumpled up. The butterfly kept trying to flap its wings and get it working. I was encouraged, and I hoped that in the morning the wing would work itself out. But, it didn’t. 😦 I kept trying to think if there was something I could do to help the butterfly along.
When I saw that the butterfly had not improved, I was sad about it. However, I couldn’t bring myself to dispose of it. I had to call my friend and teammate, Joanne, in to take care of it. Joanne is the one who gave me the milkweed plant and prepared the butterfly habitat. She said that this sometimes happens. She also informed me that she once had a chrysalis that never opened up. It was hard explaining to her students about this. In any case, she took the butterfly for me, and I don’t know what she did with it. I really don’t want to know.
It got me thinking about my classroom. Am I really doing everything I can to help all my students, even the ones with the crumpled wings? Because I have a diverse group this year, I need to make sure I can meet everyone’s needs. I can’t just leave it up to chance or to someone else to deal with. It is frustrating sometimes, because I don’t believe I am doing an adequate job. I need to focus on what it is my students can do instead of what they can’t. I need to make sure I create a learning environment where everyone can be successful. Even though it will mean a lot of work for me, I hope I can accomplish that.