Recruited by Teach for America, Molly has starting teaching in the Mississippi Delta. Her fifth-period class has 19 13-year-old boys and only a few girls. It’s a high-energy class.

“Ms. Hildebrand, what’s that state that starts with an I?” “Illinois?” “No” “Indiana?” “No” “Iowa?” “No” “Idaho?” “haha thats right… [insert all class laughing here….]” Around four oclock this afternoon I got why they were laughing… I da hoe…. wonderful….I really showed my authority to that period…..

I once witnessed a young science teacher trying to lead a discussion about the planets. You’ll guess his ninth graders’ favorite planet.

About Joanne


  1. Roger Sweeny says:

    Did you know there’s a ring around it?

  2. That’s when you mention that the starship Enterprise goes there to mop up Klingons, with a perfectly straight face.

    The alternative is to mention that it was originally spelled Ouranos and pronounced without the “Y” sound.

  3. Ah, this is why I love teaching.

  4. I used to dread teaching about the climax of the story..but the kids never reacted.

  5. Mike Curtis says:

    I…da…ho? No, U…da…ho.

  6. The great thing about children’s jokes and etc. is that they recycle them every year (passed down by siblings and word of mouth, etc.) Every year they think they’ve got something brand new, and every year I wow them with my ability to deflect with non-sarcastic zingers. Due, of course, only to those awful awkward moments when they do manage to get you the first time, and rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal in the car on the way home when, as Molly did, you realize you’ve been had. 🙂

    Ahhh, teaching.

  7. Robert Wright says:

    “When there is a joke with a sexual innuendo, virgins laugh the loudest.

    Virgins and those who have doubts about their own sexuality.

    We use humor to hide from our sexual insecurities.

    But those who know human psychology are not fooled.

    The louder you laugh, the more you’re telling the world, “I have never had sex and I will probably never will!”

    The louder you laugh, the more virgin you are.

    Virgins laugh the loudest.”

    I give that little lecture on humor and sexual self-concept early in the year and it usually does the trick.

    Though I had one boy a couple years ago who would still laugh hysterically at anything and everything that could be a sexual metaphor, no matter how farfetched.

    So, I wrote a letter to his mother informing her that John was brimming over with a desire to talk about oral sex and masturbation and since those were topics better discussed at home rather than interjected during a discussion of The Tale of Two Cities, perhaps she could find the time to discuss with John these topics along with the importance of proper classroom behavior

    I was kind of long letter. I think I mentioned “oral sex” several times. It was a lot of fun to write, it was fun to read her lengthy apology and I don’t think John cracked a smile about anything for the rest of year.

    I think if I had pretended to slip and called it “The Sale of Two Titties,” he still wouldn’t have smiled.

  8. Hey, I’m glad that they know Idaho is a state. When I moved from CA to ID at age 10, none of my classmates had any clue where Idaho is located. When I moved back to CA for college, I was shocked at how many of my classmates confused Idaho with Iowa.

  9. I went on a walking tour in Morocco, and the guide spent the trip trying to play tricks (eg hiding his coat) on one of the other walkers – who was a retired maths teacher. The retired teacher always figured out the trick within 30 seconds.

  10. Coming from Idaho, I can really relate to the I-da-ho, U-da-ho jokes and the confusion about Idaho / Iowa / Ohio. Yeah, these interactions NEVER got old. I’ve also had arguments about people who are convinced Idaho is in the midwest (it’s not, it’s intermountain west or northwest). Man, kids these days need to learn their states! (And by “kids” I mean my own generation of 20-somethings.)

  11. I realize that college is a lot different than junior high or high school, but if one of my college students pulled that on me, my response would be to chuckle a bit, and respond, “Yeah, you got me. I should have seen that set-up.” And I think that would have pretty easily defused the situation, at least with my students. Oh, they might try something similar later on, but knowing that I’m a good sport about stuff cuts down on some of the harassment.

    I suppose that wouldn’t work in a high school classroom, where there is still more of a power dynamic.

  12. As was discussed earlier here, I got reprimanded for having a blog while attending ed school. It was primarily about my life at Stanford, but had anecdotes about teaching. I was supposedly in trouble because I talked about students.

    Molly’s blog has far more revelatory information about her students than my blog did, and far more negative information (as in “I-da-ho”, which I agree is not particularly negative, but that’s my point.)

    The whole issue of teacher blogging really needs to be defined more clearly. It annoys me when people assume I was blogging terrible things about my students simply because they can’t believe that Stanford was upset about a blog that discusses students less than any of the teachers on Joanne’s blogroll. Nonetheless, that’s the case.

  13. ricki: nah, if my students had done that to me (and they do get me with similar stuff now and then), I’d laugh. There’s a reason it’s called sophomoric humor, after all. If you can’t laugh at yourself, teaching is going to be a loooooong career. Seriously, a lot of it is power stuff — trying to bully the teacher. If you laugh, you have not been bullied, and there is no power gain in it. The minute you get pissed off, they know they have you. [S3kr3T NinJa Tich3r tRik #14]

  14. Robert Wright, lead on, and I will follow you into hell if need be. You win the Righteous Dude Award of the day.

  15. Robert: If I make that slip while teaching TTC this year, I’m coming after you.

  16. Will you attempt to land a blushing crow on his skull?