Summer School, ELL Students and Johnny, the Mynah Bird

I chose to teach summer school this year, but with a different program and not the dreaded summer school for students who need credit recovery. I was coerced into teaching credit recovery after my first year of teaching and that was the worst! Basically, these are the kids who failed the school year and need/want to move on. Imagine a room full of these 30 students. Ugh. I won’t even spend more time on that. . .


I chose to work with the ELO ELL program, which is more enrichment (extended learning opportunity) for English Language Learners. Although their parents are forcing them to take the course, for the most part, they will listen and do the work. It’s a different pace for me as I needed to slow my lessons and approach because of the language barrier.

Although they are currently in grades 6-8, their reading levels are around 1st grade and no higher than 4th grade. I get to practice my Orton-Gillingham training and work on phonics as well as reading comprehension with Scholastic Reading Counts. I teach two groups of about ten students for two hours each. Although we’re in the cafeteria, it’s different. No problem.


Today was a little special because of Johnny, the Mynah Bird. The first class noticed a bird lying outside the door. They thought it was dead, but lo and behold, it was still breathing so a couple of them wanted to keep watch. It was getting picked on by other birds. Their concern was of mixed reactions. A couple of students wanted me to rush it to the animal clinic. (I thought that was cute, but I know how germ-y that would be to handle it).

In time, the little bird, now named “Johnny” was up and about, although still labored in walking and breathing.


It would get knocked down by other birds, and it was the same two bully birds that repeatedly came back.What we figured was that the bird must have flown into the glass door and knocked himself unconscious.


As it stood, the kids kept vigilant and scattered granola but the bully birds attacked. Then about three and half hours later. . .

R.I.P. Johnny, the Mynah Bird.


Some of the kids didn’t really care, said things like, “just kill it” as they pretended to attempt harm on the little thing. Others waited patiently, held out hope and protected it. It tried to survive, but sadly it was probably way more injured than we assessed.

A big thing we try to instill at our school is compassion. Maybe, at this age, feelings for a little injured bird isn’t valued, or maybe its their culture, but I had to show these students caring and compassion. What will tomorrow hold?

(Sorry for the graphic-ness of life and death in these pics). Life is very fragile.