The other day, I gave one of my fellow teachers my Magnetic Poetry Kit because I’ve never found a place for it, and she has some on the side of her metal desk. I figured she’d get more use out of it, you know? Well, we teach middle school kids, so of course I warned her to go through it and remove questionable words.
This got us to talking about the things she had already removed from her magnetic Shakespeare kit. Here’s what she said:
Knowing it’s middle school, I took the “damn” and “breast” magnets out automatically, so no one could claim literary immunity, and I left the rest of the kit intact. When I overheard two young male scholars becoming extremely—-animated—- and whispering “Cod-piece, heh, heh, heh,” I knew that one had to go as well. “Saucy,” “wanton,” “bawdy,” and “bosom” are still fodder for the masses, because they haven’t looked those words up in the dictionary yet…
Comments from the Peanut Gallery
After this conversation, I turned to one of my favorite resources for English teachers, the 2ndary ELA board on Facebook. This place is THE BEST for interaction and support from other secondary English educators. I posed the question, “What words do you avoid saying in class?”
Here are some of the funnier answers:
Dana B.- never say turn to page 69. Say 68 and 70 and then say oops go back/forward a page.
Robert C.- During my student teaching, I once directed my 7th graders, ” Take out your flash cards, partner up, and FLASH each other.”. Oops!
Jennifer E.- I have a giant stuffed rooster in my classroom and my kids named him Joseph Cocklin to represent Joseph Stalin. I made the mistake of saying to the next class, “meet Joseph cocklin, our new class dictator!” 😳oops!! We all laughed for a few minutes. Nothing else you can do when you flub up that bad!!
Amy W.- Masticate – NEVER EVER use this word. Especially in front of hormone-ridden eighth graders. From a friend.
Lisa C.- If you’re talking to a kid about his weekend and he mentions that he went hunting for beavers, absolutely do not ask the question: Do you eat beaver?
Dana M.- “Gilded weathercock” in Paul Revere’s Ride by Longfellow 😩😩
Debbie E.- Thought = THOT. Try teaching 1984 and discussing the thoughtpolice.
Kristy C.- I avoid saying “get it out” as well. Or “get with a partner and do it.”
Sydney C.- yes! “Bounce that ball again & be ball-less the rest of today!”
You guys, I was rolling reading these. I was cracking up in my classroom all by myself. I probably looked crazy! Of course, there are always those that have to chime in even though they only want to criticize, so there were few that said something like, “I don’t avoid saying anything in the academic setting because they need to learn to be mature.”
Yeah, good for you.
Most teachers I know have accidentally said something that came out wrong or sounded like something it wasn’t. Heck, if you teach Shakespeare, you’re bound to have these moments throughout the piece! I just wanted to share and celebrate those educators that are in the trenches trying to teach teenagers without setting them off. I salute you!
If you’d like to share one of the things you won’t say in the classroom, I’d love to hear it!