Choose Your Words Wisely

As an 8th grade reading teacher, I learned early on that you have to choose your words wisely. I read aloud to my students on a regular basis, and I have to stay on constant alert; editing phrases, or rewording things to prevent the snickers and giggles, or inappropriate discussions that could follow.  If the story says, “We had a dinner of franks and beans,” it instantly becomes, “We decided to cook out.”  “We sat down and enjoyed a slice of pizza with a nice tossed salad,” becomes, “We ordered pizza.”

Today, while Katniss and Peeta were being questioned about their relationship in The Hunger Games, Peeta asks, “Well now that you’ve got me, what are you going to do with me?” (The class is already giggling, so I think quickly, changing her response of, “I’ll put you somewhere you can’t get hurt,” to “I’ll keep you safe.”  

Although my word censorship might seem a little to excessive, when you are surrounded by a room full if immature dirty minds, it could end up in a total disaster. Today I overheard another teacher teaching lesson on synonyms.

I start to gather my things to move to a quiet place to work…

Teacher: “Today we are going to talk about synonyms; words that have similar meanings. Today’s words relate to wetness.”

…and I’m staying…

Teacher:  “If we look at these words: damp, wet, soggy, moist, drenched, soaked, dripping…”

The smirks have made their way across the room.

Teacher:  “These words all have to do with being wet, but can represent different degrees of wetness…”

As the teacher directs his attention to a student’s question, a boy yells out…

Student 1:  “I got Jessica wet… with my hose.”

Although the teacher did not hear his comment, the other students have heard quite clearly.

Jessica has a look of repulsion on her face, as the teacher directs his attention back to the class and joins in the conversation which he clearly does not understand.

Teacher: “Good.  Now how wet are we talking here?  Which word would you use?

Student 2: “Well, his hose isn’t very big so I’m guessing not very wet.”

Teacher:  “So would you say it was a little moist, or was it more like drenched or soaked.”

Another student, who always seems to be a few steps behind- do to his limited vocabulary, pipes up…

Student 3:  “Or soggy?  What does soggy mean?  Could it have been soggy?”

At this point I do stand up and give the kids my “teacher stare” and the discussion comes to a rather abrupt halt.


14 responses to “Choose Your Words Wisely

  1. Oh MY!! I have to censor for my third graders, too. But, that was really amazing. The teacher seriously didn’t get it?? yikes!

  2. Melissa, this just cracked me up, brought me back to summer program teaching lock and key tag which quickly was renamed penis tag or erection tag. Do you remember this, I had played it with the 6th and 7th graders with no problems but as soon as the words came out of my mouth for the 8th graders I realized that I had lost control, the comments continued the whole game. I still need to consult with the pe teachers how to explain a game that requires using balls without it turning into a contest of how many inappropriate ways the can use the word ball. Thanks for the laughs.

    • Carrie- Ah yes, How could I forget the classic game of “Penetration.” That was pretty funny. As for the whole “balls” issue- I don’t know. I had a kid bouncing a rubber ball on his desk, and without even thinking I said, “Leave your balls in your pocket. When you play with them, it’s really distracting to your classmates.”… Let me know what you find out from the PE dept. 😉

  3. Heh heh. 8th grader here.
    In science, we were learning about Newton’s Laws and thus came Newton’s cradle. Of course, the student teacher just HAD to say ‘I’m going to pull one of these steel balls back.”
    And then our class was giggling about ‘Newton’s steel balls’. Really.

  4. Funny. My kids are obsessed with bouncy balls. I constatnly find myself thinking, “why are these boys always playing with their balls,” or “who can’t keep their balls in their pants?” Of course I never say these things out loud… 🙂

  5. I know I’m a little late on this…but I’m in tears I’m laughing so hard. I might have to type this in to an anonymous document and put it somewhere in the room where only I can see it…and when I need a pick-me-up…I’ll just re-read this.

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