September 22, 2006

Fun With Dirty Words

The story we used in class today included the word rubbers several times. I wasn't sure how my students would react, so I decided to deal with it if it came up. In my first class, it was the very first questions students had, "Miss, what are rubbers?" I believe they realized that it didn't fit in the context of the story, and of course you know it was the boy in the back who was just dying to see what I'd do or say.

So, what a nice vocabulary moment when I explained to my desert children that rubbers was another term for galoshes. (That drew blank stares.) I further explained that in places where it often rains or snows, people use these kind of boots over their shoes to keep them dry. These boots are made of rubber, thus some call them simply, rubbers. I told them I'm not entirely sure that that term is still popular today, afterall, I am a desert teacher.

I asked my students if I needed to clarify that term up front with the other classes. They agreed that it would be a good idea.

How fun: "Hey students, before we start the story, so you don't become confused, I need to tell you about a word that that is used differently than you've heard before. Today we are talking about rubbers."

It wasn't too embarrassing afterall. I just acted like it was really no big deal--which it isn't if you're not in middle school.

It went better than the impromptu lesson on the "different connotations of our vocabulary word groping" that I had to give during a game of vocabulary picture review that went so wrong last week. Not one person in the class thought the picture on the board looked like a person groping for another's arm. Not even me. Oh wait, that's not true. The sweet girl who drew the picture thought it did. (Thank you vocabulary book publisher! Thank you for giving us words with double meanings. Thank you.)

Anyway, my professional explanation of rubbers went pretty well until the last class period of the day. I forgot to prepare the students for this new term prior to beginning the story, and unfortunately, they reacted exactly how I was afraid they might. So, when I gave my little explanation, it only made them laugh harder.

And for some reason, it made me pause in embarrassment. Oh, yes! At that moment, I could see inside their adolescent minds. My explanation and pantomine of these rubber overshoes brought to mind a picture of a man putting a giant prophylactic over his shoes.

That's a hard image to get past, isn't it?

Thank goodness my students aren't sophisticated enough to stumble over raincoat and hat, too. That probably would have driven me under my desk.

I just keep telling myself that a lesser teacher would have chosen a different story just to avoid these exciting moments.

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