Thursday, November 04, 2004

Sex Ed, Day 1

Today was the first day of our sexuality education unit in seventh grade health. I am using a curriculum another teacher lent me called "Sex Can Wait" - which is abstinence-only - but am supplementing it with information on contraception.

I gave the kids an overview of the unit, then we brainstormed things that would make the conversations difficult, like giggling, finding the right words for things, etc. From there, each group brainstormed ground rules. We made one final class list of ground rules, everyone signed it, and then I introduced the Question Box.

At the end of each health class, I will give each student a slip of paper. They are to write down any questions that they have, comments for me, or "I have no questions at this time." Then they fold the paper in half and put it in the box. This allows students a forum for embarrassing questions, and it gives me time to prepare answers before the next class. Most of the questions today were very basic. Two boys asked how they can grow faster. It's a cute and interesting insight into the minds of the seventh grade boys. Another girl, whose family is very seriously Jehovah's Witness, asked if I was going to give out condoms. I wonder what that question is about.... I know who asked these questions because many of the students kind of missed the point of anonymity and signed their names!

The class was pretty quiet during this lesson. I don't know if it was just a quiet day for them, or if they got shy all of a sudden, or if it was because two of the more rowdy kids had not brought in their parental consent slips for the class, so they were placed in another class for the period. We'll see what next week is like.

As of right now, I think I'm going to enjoy this. This is information that the kids really, really want to know - and it's very important that they get accurate information - and for many of them, a lot of it is brand new. So they will be paying attention! It's grounded in science. I've already fielded enough embarrassing questions that I think I can handle sex ed. I'm nervous about being put on the spot with controversial questions, but I'm fundamentally confident that I can handle any question a child throws at me. In our discussion of ground rules, I admitted that it's not easy for adults to talk about these things, either, and that occasionally I might blush or feel embarrassed just like they might. I said that I understand that reaction, but we all have to work to be as mature as we can. So, I'm ready and happy to get this show on the road!

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