That "dream" includes teaching 13 and 14 year -olds about the birds and the bees. Before I finish, what the heck does that phrase "birds and the bees" mean? So today I started every 8th graders favorite unit: Human Sexuality.
There are lots of opinions on schools teaching sex education. Let me put it all out there: 8th graders need it. I wish it was a different way, but when I have 8th grade girls getting pregnant telling them to "just say no" doesn't cut it. I teach what is called an "abstinence-based" curriculum. In a nut shell, that means I tell my students that abstinence is the safest, healthiest choice but that there are options out there that can greatly reduce the risk of pregnancy and STD.
I try to run my class in a comfortable way. I want to be an adult that my students trust and will turn to when they have questions that need to be answered. I start off this unit with this story. A few years ago I had to use one of the student bathrooms and I over heard some girls talking. One girl was telling her friends that there was no way you could get pregnant the first time you have sex. She made some pretty smart sounding arguments and used phrases about hormones and what not. If I was a middle school kid, I probably would have believed her. When I came out of the stall to wash my hands, the girls looked mortified that a teacher was in there. (I didn't know the girls.) I just told them that they were not in trouble for what they were talking about but what she was saying wasn't true. I point out to my students that conversations like that are super common, and totally normal to have, but it is important to have a place to ask questions where they know they will not be judged for the question, and will get the correct information. That is where my class comes in.
Today I got to talk about: periods, penis length, how twins are developed, how tampons work, hermaphrodites and "what is masturbating." I do this all with a straight face. The hardest are the questions that are asked out loud. I also hate the new slang terms that I haven't learned. Then I have to look it up, and it can be bad. Sometimes I wonder what their parents would say if they knew their kids were asking some of these questions, but the parents are aware that they are in the sex ed unit. My principal is also well aware of what goes on in my classroom. I always give her a copy of the written down questions and a heads up on any controversial topics that are brought up out loud just in case a parent complains or questions what I am teaching.
Do you remember middle school health class?