Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 24 2012

Dirty Minds

My babies officially became seventh graders today.


When I taught 8th graders, they quickly trained me to never say anything that could even remotely be construed as inappropriate. They can hear sexual innuendo in any sentence and see it in anything you might draw. They can fit a good “that’s what she said” into anything, and they¬† know just the volume to use to get the whole class laughing without anyone quite hearing what was said. They can be really sneaky and really dirty, and as a teacher you just learn to be really, really careful.


But at the beginning of this year, I let down my guard. Incoming sixth graders are still about as innocent as babies. I don’t think most of them even think about sex, much less consider it for humor. The first time I said something in class that could have been taken wrong, I think I visibly flinched. My kids, on the other hand, just sat there politely taking notes, obliviousness to my cringing in the front of the classroom. Their minds were about as far from the gutter as they could get, and I definitely got lazy. And I totally forgot all the warnings that 6th graders usually have their hormones hit around January.


Today I was starting a geometry unit, and talking about types of lines. I’m a stickler for spelling (seriously, if I can spell ANGLE in huge letters on the board, you are not writing about ANGELs in your notebook) and I was carefully enunciating the vocabulary words as I wrote them down. So we get to the word after parallel, and I’m writing it carefully and breaking down the syllables.


“PER – PEN – ” (I’m not dumb. I see this one coming a mile away and decide I need to stop with the syllables immediately.) “DICULAR.”


And my class, my babies, my innocent little former-fifth-graders, starts convulsing with laughter. They’re not trying to be rude, they’re not trying to rile up their peers… they just heard something that sounded naughty, they get it suddenly, and the laughter became impossible to suppress. The giggles could even have been cute if they weren’t genitalia-inspired.


I rolled my eyes, they caught their collective breath, and we moved on to talk about lines and right angles. But I’m pretty positive that was the moment that everything changed. My little kiddies might suddenly be all grown up.

One Response

  1. Ms. H

    I had a student reading a story aloud and he came to the sentence, “Cole fingered his hatchet.” He immediately broke into laughter. Thankfully, the other students in the small group did not get why he was laughing.

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