Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hog Nuts

I know, you couldn't resist reading this story with a title like that!  It was the year 2005, my first year as a 5th grade teacher.  My classroom was on the second floor of McKinley Elementary in Des Moines, Iowa, a school built in the early 1900's.  I still miss the wooden floors and rocking chair that became my second home.  If you had told me, years before, that I would have ended up a teacher, I would have laughed in your face.  Literally.  It seemed too simple... too predictable.  But more on that later.

My first 5th grade class at McKinley Elementary in Des Moines, Iowa.  This was our yearbook photo.  All the other classes had pictures with students lined up in neat rows and the teacher standing guard.  Not mine.  This photo perfectly captures that magical and eventful year!
I was seated at the back of the classroom at a table with a group of six students.  For an hour and a half each day, our school practiced SSR (or, Sustained Silent Reading, for you non-educators).  The students I sat with were the most advanced, talkative bunch you can imagine.  We were reading Charlotte's Web, and were at the part in our discussion where they each got to share connections they made from reading previous chapters.  With this particular brood, staying on track took extra effort.  McKenzie raised her hand and was the first to speak.  "Ms. G., I was reading this nonfiction book about animals the other day.  What are pig testicles?!"  she asked intently.

I stared blankly at her for about one second, my mind racing to think of the best words to use to respond to her.  No college textbook, manual or student teaching had prepared me for this particular inquiry.  Before I could speak, Jacob jumped in and said, utterly shocked, "You don't know what pig testicles are?!"  McKenzie shook her head, no.

Jacob proceeded to cup his hands like he was holding two big, invisible water balloons and responded, "You know, hog nuts!"  McKenzie's face immediately went from confusion to dumbfounded amazement.  "Oh..." was all she said in response.  And knowing that she now knew the meaning of pig testicles, we went on with our lesson.


  1. Hilarious! The things kids say... I love hearing stories like these from my teacher friends :)

    1. Thank you so much for being my first official comment, Maria! Glad you enjoyed the story! Teachers really do have the best ones. ;)

  2. Loved this! Thank you for sharing!

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  5. Yep! sounds about right for youngsters and the one who knows all the answers of course.