Miss Tiddy & My Pussywillow- just two characters whose names will create pure havoc whenever presented to even the most sophisticated middle-schooler (courtesy of Red Moon at Sharpsburg-historical fiction).
There are many words that I find myself saying and instantly wishing I hadn’t while standing in front of a roomful of striplings and damsels in my chosen field of education. There have been articles, chapters, even YOUTUBE videos that myself or others did not fully scan for any type of potential word bombs.
Word bombs can sneak up on an educator or parent of the middle school variety and one must learn how to quickly, glibly assume wide-eyed innocence at the very suggestion that anything is different from the intended use of the term. Doing so can prevent minutes of off-task behavior…perhaps even hours. The list below is a running one. It refers to words, phrases, and terms that, when illustrated or verbalized, blow the mind of the 14 year old boy.
20. MOIST: This word is the one that started the entire meltdown. I’ve found it scratched onto desks, scratched onto boards, smudged in that gross-pencil-smudge often found on desks…always a boy’s desk. I made the mistake of asking why this particular term was being spotted all over the upper middle school …for some reason, this is “ew” to me. (I stopped them from explaining as soon as they opened their mouths-some things are better left unsaid.)
19. MOAN: Expect to get a similar reaction (compared to moist). There is an app that provides “sounds”. During a sensory exercise in which the students are asked to close their eyes and identify sound, never, repeat NEVER hit the moan key. It’s better to even strike the fart key.
18. PENAL/PENALIZED: Tomato/Tohmahtoe- I find myself speaking in a British accent when having to deal with these two.
17. NO: A teacher never truly knows the reaction of a middle schooler who is presented with the word.
16. ANNALS: To place the wrong emphasis on the incorrect syllable here could get a little dicey. Importance of correct pronunciation
15. YES: Again, a teacher never never never truly knows the reaction of a middle schooler who is presented with THIS word. Possibilities are, well, endless and frankly a bit terrifying at times.
14. ORGANISM: Not that many know the other term that this one can be mistaken for while reading…just one that the author for some reason always felt anxiety when reading out loud. CLIMAX falls a close 13.5 on this list.
13. HUMP: This term one may come across whilst studying military history….to walk during combat conditions is the definition for this urban slang word. I suggest NOT comparing your job of teaching to humping. This will end any remote chance of successful teaching that day…perhaps even that month.
12. GROIN: Some students have no idea what this area is…tell them to ask a friend during lunch time and let those lunch monitors earn their keep.
11. NUTS: Guaranteed to make your favorite animated student screech this word 5 times quickly in a row…this is where you choose your battles.
10. UDDERS: Civil War novels are good for one or two scenes involving characters using these to sustain life.
9. JACKASS: At this point, a non-sequitur
8. BITCH: Used in books about wildlife, domesticated animals, non-domesticated animals, farms, coming-of-age-stories….do you have ANY idea how many of those types of required middle school reading there are?
7. URANUS: Since the beginning of time; a classic.
6. CRAP: Super unoriginal, but uttered too much, can cause a breach in classroom security, as in “CRAP! Where is that pile of quizzes????”
5. URINE: “You’re in trouble.”
4. HELL: “You can go to dang Hell, Larry!”
3. STONED: Self- explanatory
2. AROUSED: ” the squirrel’s attention was aroused …”
1. BALLS: major no-no as in “If you are holding any blue balls, rotate to the right.” “Turn all your balls in before you leave.” “Those with the little hard balls please stop touching them while I’m speaking.” One teacher finally let us in on the secret: refer to the balls as SPHERES. Done.